Tributes to two Canadian soldiers who died in two separate attacks continued to flow Saturday, expressed in an outpouring of patriotism and terms like heart break and shock.
Dozens stood in a line at the foot of a Montreal cenotaph, clutching Canadian flags and bouquets of flowers, waiting to sign books of condolences for the families of Cpl Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
Antoinette Mercurio, who organized the memorial, asked people to bring two flowers — one for each soldier. The books of condolences will be sent to the families.
“When I heard that our two soldiers were murdered in such a fashion, it broke my heart,” Mercurio said.
“I realized that people in Montreal will need somewhere to go and show the honour that they fell and their remorse. Every kind of different person is here, every age, every religion, every nationality. It’s beautiful.”
Vincent was killed Monday in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, not far from Montreal, when a man deliberately drove a car into him and another soldier in the parking lot of a federal building.
Cirillo was killed Wednesday at the National War Memorial when a gunman shot him in the back before storming into the Centre Block on Parliament Hill.
Many in Montreal said they were still coming to terms with the back-to-back attacks.
“The first day I walked around in a state of shock, wondering how this could happen, how could some young people lose their way so incredibly to do these horrible things, what went on in their heads” said Montrealer Joanne Scullion.
“I do not blame the Muslim community. This has nothing to do with the true meaning of Islam.”
The memorial also featured a group rendition of “O Canada.”
Camille Couineau, a 15-year-old army cadet, handed out sheets with the words of the national anthem to the crowd.
“I think everyone is here because they want to remember and to see that a lot of other people are affected. It helps everyone to see that they are not alone,” she said.
Robert Germain, who lives in Ottawa, said he too was heartened by the turnout in Montreal.
“Everybody across Canada, even across the border, is affected by it,” said Germain, in town to see the Montreal Canadiens play at the Bell Centre, where there was to be a special ceremony in honour of the slain soldiers.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, things were slowly returning to normal. The grounds of Parliament Hill were reopened to the public, while tours are to resume on Monday.
Speaker Andrew Scheer said visitors and House of Commons employees can expect to see heightened RCMP presence at entrances to buildings in the Parliamentary Precinct.
He also said counselling sessions will be held on Monday and Tuesday for Commons staff.