WINNIPEG —; More than 100 people packed the room at Universite de Saint Boniface Monday morning to honour the 129 lives lost in the terror attacks in Paris.
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From anger to sadness, the mood remained solemn and somber as the French community came together to help get each other through the tragedy.
“I’m very anxious for my family because it’s the area where we live,” said Laura Ainouche. “It’s completely horrible for me.”
Ainouche and her husband moved to Winnipeg two years ago amidst safety concerns. She said there was already tension in the air in France’s capital. The couple are set to return in the coming months but are frightened.
“I am afraid,” she said. “I have to go back in May for three months with my baby and I don’t know if I can go back. I am really anxious that I can die in the streets.”
Anxiety in the metropolitan city remains high, while a heightened military and police presence can be seen.
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“There is a certain amount of tenseness in the air,” said Ken Zaifman. The Winnipeg immigration lawyer flew to Paris on Saturday as part of a volunteer group of Manitobans to attract people to immigrate to the province.
He’s staying near the Place de la République and watched as a crowd of mourners suddenly ran from the large public square when they heard the sound of fire crackers over the weekend.
“It set off almost a stampede of people leaving that square,” said Zaifman. “Police cordoned the area off cause they weren’t sure where it came from.”
Zaifman said there is a dichotomy in the city right now.
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“You have a very heavy police presence and army presence,” he said. “But people appear to be going on with their daily lives. The restaurants were full on the weekend, people were in the street. Parisian life seems to be going on. They are not succumbing to anything.”
Yet, for many in the Muslim community the attack ignites old fears.
“When you hear the news, it’s like oh my god… please don’t let it be someone who claims they are acting in the name of Islam,” said Tasneem Vali. “Because Islam in no way condones this.”
Vali said it is hard for many in the community to grieve normally.
“It’s hard in the sense that you have to feel apologetic before you can feel sorry or you can empathize or say I know what you are going through,” she said.
The attacks have thrust Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to allow 25,000 refugees into Canada by the end of the year, under the microscope.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is asking the Prime Minister to reconsider, while Premier Greg Selinger said he remains committed to bringing 2,000 refugees to Winnipeg by the end of the year.