Paris attacks: Montrealers take to streets for solidarity march

A downtown march in support of the victims of the Paris attacks attracted hundreds of people seeking to extend their sympathies to the victims.

Montrealers mourn for Paris for the third straight day, as Mayor Coderre leads downtown march

A woman holds up a French flag during a rally of solidarity outside the Consulate of France, in Montreal, on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, to show support to the victims of the Paris attacks. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Hundreds marched through downtown Montreal Sunday to offer support for the victims of Friday's Paris attacks.

The solemn event began at 10 a.m. at the corner of Jeanne-Mance Street and Ste-Catherine Street West, with the crowd slowly making its way to the French consulate on McGill College Avenue. 

March organizer Mayor Denis Coderre was on hand, walking alongside French Consul General Catherine Feuillet.

"We won't give in to intimidation. We will protect liberty and democracy. We will unite against hatred and intolerance," Coderre told the crowd to warm applause. 

Elected representatives from several political parties were also present to display their support for the French in their difficult time. 

The officials included Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly who pleaded for tolerance. "It's important that we keep a strong social unity and that we maintain and support our diversity without falling victim to fear and division," said Joly.

 Joly remained vague on whether the attacks might lead the Trudeau Liberals to reverse its recent federal decision to remove Canadian planes from the international coalition against the Islamic State. 

Quebec International Affairs Minister Christine St-Pierre, who was also on hand Sunday, expressed hope that the federal government would rejoin the international coalition.

"Those people have attacked our values. They do not share our values. Countries unite so the coalition can continue its work," she said.  

Coderre on why he organized the march

"It's important in those tough times to show that they have a friend and that there's solidarity all around the world, specifically in Montreal," Coderre told CBC's All in a Weekend Sunday prior to the march.

"I feel hurt. (Paris Mayor) Anne Hidalgo and I know each other and talk all the time. We have 100,000 French from France working and studying here. We have historical links. When they suffer, we suffer. We understand them. We know how they feel," he said. 

"In these days of mourning we have to show that Montreal is Paris," he continued. 

The march wound up in front of the French consulate at 1501 McGill College Avenue. 

The event represents the third straight day that Montrealers have taken to McGill College to mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks, which saw 132 civilians killed and hundreds more injured Friday evening. 

About 500 people stood solemnly outside the French consulate for a candlelight vigil Friday evening and on Saturday even larger crowds assembled in Montreal and Quebec City Saturday to express their sympathies.  

Rides from the McGill Metro station were offered for free as a way to encourage attendance.

-With a file from The Canadian Press


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