Town has book of condolences for victims of Paris attacks

November 18, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Tabitha Wells

Tabitha Wells

By Tabitha Wells

Until next Tuesday, Orangeville residents will have an opportunity to sign a book of condolences in memory of the victims of Friday night’s attacks in Paris. Mayor Jeremy Williams met with press Tuesday afternoon to sign the book and let the public know about it. Citizens interested in signing the book will find it in the front foyer of Town Hall.

On Friday evening, word of several simultaneous attacks by armed men began to appear in the news, shocking the world as the city of Paris faced its worst attack since World War II.

That evening, many cities around the world showed their support and solidarity for France by lighting up some of their mon-uments, city signs and more in the colours of the French flag.
Following the attacks, French President Francois Hollande called a press conference where he announced that the country would take action against ISIS, who claimed responsibility for the attacks, and announced that France would be closing all borders as they declared a state of emergency.

“In these difficult moments, we must – and I’m thinking of the many victims, their families and the injured – show compassion and solidarity,” said President Hollande during his address. “But we must also show unity and calm. Faced with terror, France must be strong, it must be great and the state authorities must be firm. We will be.”

Despite being urged to stay out of the streets, many in Paris attended vigils and memorials, holding up signs that read “We are not afraid.”

Currently, the death toll of the attacks sits at 129, with 89 of those being killed at the Bataclan theatre, where two shooters took those attending a concert hostage and began executing them. More than 430 others were injured in the attacks, and stories from survivors or family members of those who were killed began to flow onto social media.

In the days that followed, word spread of other attacks – one on Thursday in Beirut, and another in Baghdad on Friday, as well as earthquakes in Japan and Mexico.

In response to the question regarding the other places, and why the book is directly about Paris, Mayor Williams wrote on Facebook: “We are all saddened by senseless vio- lence no mater where it rears its ugly head. Paris is a close ally. We identify an attack on Paris as an attack against our way of life. It brings it home and feels closer than an attack on Africa, or Syria or dozens of other places would. Most of us feel a greater connection to Paris than Lebanon as one seems very much like our world, one not as much. In short, when we see the Paris attack, we see it as an attack on everything we hold dear.”

He added that while the book is in memory of those lost in Paris, for him it also “marks a point in time to grieve for all those lost over the last two decades.”

The book was for those “lost to hatred, ignorance and intolerance,” he said, adding: “The world is much smaller than most real- ize. We are all connected. We all stand on the same big chunk of dirt. Let’s take a moment out of our busy life to do something positive against this horrible backdrop of negative.”

Although it can be difficult to find the way to respond being so far away, Mayor Williams and Council felt the book was a way people could express their condolences and sorrows during this time.

The book will be available to be signed during operational hours at Town Hall until Tuesday, November 24 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), as well as on Saturday, November 21 during the indoor market from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m..

Council hopes to deliver this book to the Consulate General of France’s office in Toronto, before the end of the month.

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