MONTREAL – This is supposed to be a time of celebration for French nationals living in Montreal.
July 14 is Bastille Day, the national holiday, but it quickly turned into a day of national mourning.
Dozens of people were instantly killed when a 19-ton refrigerated truck drove down Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France Thursday night as thousands were watching a fireworks display over the Mediterranean Sea.
“It’s just heavy, really, really heavy. We feel helpless,” Arnaud Juhère, a French citizen now living in Montreal, told Global News.
Juhère has been living in Montreal for several years and, as difficult as it is, he wants his fellow French citizens to remain resilient and show resolve in face of the latest attack.
“French people are strong, they’re going to keep getting out, partying, drinking, enjoying life but it’s still like really, really heavy and hard to accept that it keeps going and it’s like it doesn’t feel like it’s going to stop any day,” he said.
This is the third attack in France in less than two years. No group has claimed responsibility for the carnage, but French officials called it an undeniable act of terror.
Many French people are now feeling vulnerable.
Aurelien Leblay is returning to France next week with his family to visit some relatives. But for the first time in years, his immediate family won’t be staying in Paris.
“After what happened last November and today we won’t take any chances to stay in Paris,” Leblay told Global News.
And Daniel Alonso cancelled a planned trip on Saturday to attend a family funeral.
”I cancelled everything,” he said.
French flags are flying from the second floor balcony at Montreal City Hall.
Bouquets of flowers, plants and candles sit outside the office tower where the French consulate has its Montreal office on McGill College Avenue.
While many people can’t say why France has been the target of so many terrorist attacks in recent memory, they also fear Nice won’t be the last.