QUEBEC — Nothing can explain barbaric attacks on people who were simply working to build a better world, Premier Philippe Couillard said Monday, referring to the seven Quebecers killed in recent terror attacks.
A Montreal-area man died Thursday in Jakarta while six people from the Quebec City area were slain during a siege in Ouagadougou late Friday.
The premier said the fight against terrorists must continue, all without compromising core values of freedom, democracy and tolerance.
"These actions also strengthen our resolve to fight these barbarians with all our strength, alongside our allies," Couillard said, adding the attacks were a stark reminder that violence that seemed so distant in the past can touch people at home.
"We live in a troubled world," he said. "Smaller too. Everything is now so close to us."
Flags were lowered to half-mast at the provincial legislature in honour of the seven.
Tahar Amer-Ouali, 70, a father of five and a hearing-aid specialist, was killed in Jakarta in an attack by militants tied to the Islamic State group, while six Quebecers on a humanitarian mission were killed in Burkina Faso's capital during a terrorist attack carried out by al-Qaida.
Four of the dead were from the same family: Yves Carrier, his wife Gladys Chamberland, their adult son Charlelie Carrier and Yves' adult daughter, Maude Carrier.
The others who died were their friends, Louis Chabot and Suzanne Bernier.
They were among at least 28 people killed when terrorists stormed a hotel and cafe in the African country's capital of Ouagadougou.
Couillard said there's a feeling of helplessness in the face of such heinous, gratuitous acts.
"Nothing can explain that one attacks the people who contribute by dedicating themselves to building a better world," Couillard said.
"This attack against them is also an attack on us all."
Four of the six killed in Burkina Faso were previous or current employees of a Quebec City school board, where friends and colleagues of the victims were struggling to deal with their deaths.
Classes were cancelled Monday for students at Jean-de-Brebeuf and Cardinal Roy high schools, both part of the Commission scolaire de la Capitale school board in Quebec City.
Erick Parent, the board's secretary-general, told a news conference that support was being offered to friends and colleagues of the victims.
While there were no classes, doors remained open to students. A dozen psychologists were also on hand to help staff deal with their grief and prepare to respond to students in the coming days.
"It's a tragedy," he said. "What we must do is support our employees, and also our students, who are affected by the hundreds through the teachers they've frequented in recent years."
He said the board's 5,000 employees and 28,000 students will hold a minute of silence on Tuesday before classes begin.
"I think things will have to be handled delicately," Parent said of the discussions to follow.
Yves Carrier was an assistant principal before his retirement and Bernier had been an administrator at two elementary schools before she retired.
Chamberland, a civil servant, worked for Quebec's Natural Resources Department, while Charlelie was a student.
Maude Carrier and Chabot were secondary school teachers as of Friday.
A mother of two, Maude Carrier had a twin sister and husband who both worked as teachers at the same board.