More than 50 people attended a memorial and candlelight vigil Friday evening at Saint Boniface Cathedral in solidarity for the residents of Lac-Mégantic — part of a nationwide show of support for the Quebec community now in the throes of a tragic and deadly train derailment that has claimed 28 lives to date.
Up to 50 people remain unaccounted for after the July 6th incident that leveled the heart of the town of 6,000 residents.
"We have a particular connection in St. Boniface," said Matt Allard, president of the St. Boniface Residents Association, which organized the vigil. "But I think everybody was horrified by the tragic events. We’re letting them (residents of Lac-Mégantic) know they’re not alone. We’ve been brought together by these unfortunate events.
"Everyone who’s seen the terrible images has been affected."
Alllard’s association contacted the mayor of Lac-Mégantic to offer condolences. The mayor only asked that Allard raise awareness for donations to the Red Cross, which has responded to the disaster.
Although hastily organized, more than four dozen people arrived at the steps of the basilica shortly before the memorial at 7 p.m. At 7:30, the candlelight vigil was held. Thousands more were expected to attend similar vigils in Quebec and across Canada.
"We’re all Canadians," noted association member Bill Caithness, who suggested organizing the Winnipeg vigil. "What happened is horrible and should never happen again. In the French community, there’s a large Québécois component and they’re all touched by this. It’s kind of a solidarity thing."