I walk across two battlefields every day on the way home from the Old City.
As I walk west, I first cross the Plains of Abraham, where, on the 13th of September, 1759, French and British troops faced off in a short but frenzied struggle for control of Québec City. Fighting for king and country on both sides, soldiers shot and killed each other in the warmth of a late-summer morning. When the smoke lifted, dozens had been killed and hundreds wounded. The French retreated and the British took the city.
Then, further down the road, I cross the Sainte Foy battlefield, where the French and British clashed again. It was the following spring – April of 1760 – and their roles were reversed: this time the French were laying siege to the capital city and it was the British who came out to confront them. When the British retreated into the city, hundreds were dead and over a thousand wounded.
If I walk just a few more kilometers, I will find myself on the site of the old village center of Sainte Foy. There, on January 29, 2017, six innocents were killed and a score more wounded in a battle that we are all fighting, a battle that we cannot afford to lose. The stakes in this struggle are far more important than the prosaic concerns of an eighteenth-century empire. In this case, we are fighting for human decency and our very humanity.
My sincerest condolences go out to the victims of this horrible tragedy.