MONTREAL — Youth, parents and advocates called for stronger measures to stop gun violence as they marched on Saturday in memory of a 16-year-old felled by gunfire.
Several hundred people attended the march to denounce gun violence in the St-Michel district, which ended at the spot where Thomas Trudel was shot and killed the previous Sunday.
Flowers, drawings, candles and photos were placed at the spot in memory of Trudel, who was described by classmates as likeable and gentle.
Trudel is the third teenager to die a violent death in Montreal this year.
Fifteen-year-old Meriem Boundaoui was struck in a drive-by shooting in February, while 16-year-old Jannai Dopwell-Bailey died after being stabbed outside his school in October.
On Saturday, representatives of youth groups urged authorities to take action so they don't have to hold memorials for any more dead children in the future.
“If we organize this tribute, it's first of all in support of the family, but also for the young people of the school and to all of Thomas's friends," said Mohamed Noredine Mimoun, a coordinator and mobilization agent at the Saint-Michel Youth Forum.
"We do not want to enter a vicious circle of violence, we do not want there to be a feeling of revenge or even a feeling of insecurity that will push our young people take up weapons again."
In a Facebook post Saturday morning, Premier François Legault said he was angered and saddened by Trudel's death.
"It’s not normal that our young people are not safe," he wrote.
"It’s not normal for our kids to be gunned down when they come back from playing. It’s not normal that this is happening here at home in Montreal."
He said he'd asked his cabinet to think of any possible solutions to help police end the violence, and promised that no resources would be spared in that effort.
In speeches, intervention workers repeatedly stressed that prevention and education were the best tools to prevent gun violence.
A woman who attended the march with her nine-year-old son said she was worried about recent violent incidents in the city.
"I've lived here for 20 years and I've always felt safe," said Valérie Mome-Leclair. "But it's certainly worrying and I hope these remain isolated incidents."
Federal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Quebec lieutenant, delivered a speech urging stakeholders to work together to prevent similar tragedies, but was criticized by some people at the march who called out "We want action!"
In an interview, Rodriguez told The Canadian Press that the federal government was taking action to increase enforcement and provide the technological capacity to better find and trace illegal guns, and was working with the U.S. government to control the flow of weapons across the border.
Rodriguez said the federal government had also invested $250 million into community organizations that work with young people to prevent violence.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2021.
Frédéric Lacroix-Couture, The Canadian Press