‘It’s unimaginable’: Trudeau meets with grieving families at Laval vigil

One day after a city bus rammed into a Laval, Que. daycare and killed two children, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a vigil Thursday night to show support to the families “reflecting on the senselessness of this tragedy.”

“It’s unimaginable,” the prime minister said of the attack that also left several children injured in the suburb north of Montreal.

Trudeau attended the vigil at the Église Sainte-Rose-de-Lima, the same church where residents gathered to console each other Wednesday evening following the crash. 

“This is a moment to reflect on the incredible loss that families are feeling right now,” Trudeau said

“The first responders responded as the heroes they are. We think about them as they as they struggle with what they had to do and what they had to see. We think about all the people who rushed to help and think of the community right now here in Laval and across the province across the country, pulling together to be there for each other, to support through the days and months and years of grieving and healing to come.”

Two children, both aged four, were killed shortly after 8:30 a.m. when a city bus rammed into the front of the Garderie éducative Sainte-Rose. Six other children were injured and rushed to area hospitals. The 51-year-old bus driver was arrested and faces two counts of first-degree murder and seven other charges related to the crash. 

People attend a vigil at a church near the site of a daycare centre where two children lost their lives after a city bus crashed into the building in Laval, Que, Thursday, February 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

The city’s mayor, Stéphane Boyer, was also at the community gathering and joined the prime minister in laying flowers and observing a moment of silence at a memorial at the church entrance.

“All we can do is be there for each other and that’s what people in this community, that’s what people across the country, do,” Trudeau said.

Boyer and Trudeau shared their condolences with dozens of people outside the church during a snow storm. The pair also shared a few words with mourners, including some who witnessed the tragedy. 

“There’s not much we can do as elected officials other than show our support,” Boyer told the crowd, which included young children, neighbours, and first responders who were called to the scene.

People gather for a vigil at a church near the site of a daycare centre where two children lost their lives after a city bus crashed into the building in Laval, Que, Thursday, February 9, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe

Officials have urged the community to seek psychological support in the aftermath of the devastating incident.

“Don’t hesitate if you need help,” Boyer told a man at the vigil who said he had a child who attended the daycare. “There might be post-traumatic distress with your child later. See what you can do to help her.”

People affected by the tragedy can call Quebec’s Info-Santé hotline by dialling 811 and choosing option 2. A family support line is also available by calling 1-855-336-8568.

One psychologist recommended talking to affected children sooner and letting them know it is OK to talk about the emotions they are feeling.

“You don’t want to be in a situation where the child is sad, worried or anxious and doesn’t know how to talk about it or how to handle it,” Nafissa Ismail, a professor at the University of Ottawa School of Psychology, said in an interview with the The Canadian Press.

Quebec MP Pierre Paul-Hus attended the vigil on behalf of the federal Conservative Party of Canada. “It’s unthinkable,” he said, echoing other elected officials’ calls for people to get the support they need to get through the tragic loss.

“It’s important to ask for help. Psychological help is the priority right now,” said the MP for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Christopher Skeete, the Quebec MNA for the Sainte-Rose district where the daycare is located, was also there to show his support.

Earlier Thursday morning, Premier François Legault and the leaders of all opposition parties in the National Assembly, were in Laval to lay flowers at a memorial site and to pay their respects to the victims’ families.

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