Vigils held in memory of Suzanne Clermont and François Duchesne

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Residents of Quebec City placed flowers, candles and messages of condolences in front of Suzanne Clermont’s home on Rue des Remparts.

Two vigils were held over the past week to honour the lives of Suzanne Clermont and François Duchesne, who were killed during the stabbing attacks in Old Quebec on Oct. 31.

The first vigil took place on Nov. 2 on Rue des Remparts in front of Clermont’s home. The other was held on Nov. 3 in front of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), where Duchesne worked.

Soon after the Service de police de la Ville de Québec cleared the crime scene, people started placing flowers, messages and candles in front of Clermont’s home on Rue des Remparts. Jacques Fortin, Clermont’s life partner of 15 years, who was in hospital being treated for shock, invited the public to attend a vigil in front of their home, where she had been attacked. People, all wearing masks, gathered in silence starting at 6:30 p.m. and dispersed hours later.

Known to many as “Madame Sourire” (“the smiling lady”), Clermont, 61, a hairdresser, was involved in many community groups and committees and was always preparing social activities, friends and neighbours said. Even her vigil brought the community together.

Clermont’s home on Rue des Remparts overlooks the Old Port. For the occasion, the tall Bunge grain silos on the other side of Louise Basin were illuminated in ever-changing rainbow colours, an echo of this past spring’s encouraging message, “Ça va bien aller.”

The following day, at dusk, the façades of several Quebec City landmarks – the Videotron Centre, the Concorde Hotel, the Château Frontenac and the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion of the MNBAQ– were lit up in green, the colour of hope.

On Nov. 3, soon after the evening bells of Église Saint-Dominique stopped ringing, a vigil was held in front of the MNBAQ in memory of Duchesne, who was the museum’s director of communications and marketing. A large crowd gathered on Grande Allée, which was temporarily closed to traffic.

Duchesne’s older brother Charles spoke about how happy his brother was to have found his dream job at the MNBAQ, which he could see from his home on Grande Allée. François Duchesne was often described as enthusiastic and approachable. “He was so proud to show us his museum. He greeted us on the magnificent white staircase of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion before giving us a private tour of the galleries and the beautiful wood workshop,” Charles Duchesne said. “He was always full of ideas and joy.”

“François had an unshakeable optimism,” said museum director Jean-Luc Murray. “He never doubted that everything would be OK in the end.” Murray announced that the museum’s art therapy program, which helps adults with mental health problems, will be named in memory of François Duchesne.

At both vigils, political figures including Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault and MP for Québec Jean-Yves Duclos paid their respects. A sombre Mayor Régis Labeaume placed flowers at each location.

The names of four of the five survivors of the attacks were announced on Nov. 5 at the Quebec City Courthouse. They are Rémy Bélanger, 37; Gilberto Porras, 19; Lisa Mahmoud, 24; and Pierre Lagrevol, 26; who were attacked while strolling in the Old City on Halloween. There is a publication ban on the name of the fifth survivor, who is a minor.

 

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People attending the vigil for François Duchesne placed flowers, candles and messages of sympathy at the temporary memorial set up in front of the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion of the MNBAQ. Photo by Cassandra Kerwin