Benoit Goubot had just finished work and arrived at the Federation des Francophones de Saskatoon’s (FFS) weekly community get together when he learned about the attacks in his home country.
The Brittany-native worked in Paris for five years and has friends and family who still live there.
“First, the shock and after that, you’re very worried about your close friends and family,” Goubot said Monday, adding the scariest thing was not having all the information. “It’s not knowing, and not having the first insight and living the event with them.”
Goubot was able to confirm all his loved ones were safe. Having worked in media, he knew some of his friends would want to be close to the action to cover the story. One of his friends was accidentally thrown into the action while filming an unrelated story.
“My camera man friend was following firefighters in Paris that night,” Goubot said. “He just arrived on the terrace of a cafe and he saw those guys (victims) laying on the ground, bullets everywhere, and he wasn’t prepared for that.”
He also has friends who are police officers in Paris and who live close to the Stade de France, the soccer arena which was attacked by suicide bombers.
FFS president Eric Lefol said following the deadly attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters, Parisians have expected more attacks. He said people have tried to plan the safest times and places to do their Christmas shopping.
Goubot said his friends woke up to a very different city on Saturday. Normally packed subway tunnels were reduced to empty tubes and he said there was a general sadness floating in the air.
“I don’t want to get used to that,” he said.
French president Francois Hollande has declared the attacks an act of war against Paris and has vowed revenge against the Islamic extremist group ISIS. France has already carried out bombings of the group’s base in Raqqa, Syria.
“When you deal with an extremist group like that, it’s difficult to find a mid-way with them. They are not open to dialogue or negotiations,” Lefol said, stressing he doesn’t think war will make any progress.
Goubot said he plans to return to Paris to visit family over Christmas. During that time he hopes to visit the sites of the attacks. He still has hope for the city of lights, despite worries of increased tensions.
“We are French,” he said with a laugh. “We like to cry and yell and I think after that we can create beautiful things too.”