He was a hard-working stagehand whose violent death shocked the province, and on Monday he was laid to rest before the tearful eyes of family and the solemn gaze of politicians and VIPs.
Denis Blanchette, the 48-year-old lighting technician shot outside a political rally on Quebec election night last week, was honoured in an east-end Montreal church service by friends, co-workers and dozens of strangers who had gathered outside in tribute to him.
Premier-designate Pauline Marois, who was addressing a Parti Québécois victory rally when Mr. Blanchette was shot, paid homage to Mr. Blanchette’s family and said that without him, the election-night drama might have turned out worse.
“It gives a very tragic sense to what happened – the fact that a man died during an event celebrating democracy,” said Ms. Marois, one of dozens of provincial, federal and municipal politicians in attendance.
But the sombre ceremony was mainly meant for those closest to Mr. Blanchette, the victim behind the dramatic shooting that made news around the world. Known to be always ready to help his colleagues, he had swapped shifts as a favour to a co-worker on the night he was killed. In a eulogy, childhood friend Denis Bourgault told mourners that Mr. Blanchette had left the world “through the big door.”
“You again thought of others before yourself. That is why we love you,” he said.
Mr. Blanchette’s mother and three sisters attended the funeral service. Elaborate security measures outside the church included sniffer dogs and a large police security perimeter. Some have raised questions about whether security was adequate around the Métropolis concert hall on the night of the shooting.
Another mourner said in her eulogy that Mr. Blanchette was an “extraordinary” father to his four-year-old daughter, Amy.
Mr. Blanchette became the first Quebecker to be honoured in a so-called “national commemoration” service arranged by the Quebec government. The honour is similar to a civic funeral, which is usually reserved for police officers and other public servants killed in the line of duty, but is meant to pay homage to citizens who have marked the province. The flag at the Quebec legislature was flown at half-mast Monday.
Richard Henry Bain, 62, faces first-degree and attempted-murder charges in connection with the shooting, which also injured stagehand David Courage.