This week seemed to be the week of sad deaths. Tahar Amer-Ouali, a Laval father of five, died last Thursday in a bomb attack in the centre of Jakarta. Throughout his lifetime, the hearing aid specialist was committed to helping others. Born in Algeria, Amer-Ouali moved to Canada to provide his children with “a better future”. He travelled extensively to provide hearing aids to less fortunate people with hearing disabilities around the world and split his time between Laval and Jakarta. “We all loved my father and he’ll be missed tremendously,” Farid Amer-Ouali, his eldest son, told CTV Montreal.
On our side of the world, iconic Québécoise pop chanteuse Céline Dion lost her brother Daniel Dion to cancer on Saturday just two days after losing her husband and long-time manager René Angélil, also to cancer. “My heart goes out to her,” said Barry Garber, a longtime friend of the couple, noting that Céline’s family is very close knit and that they are still processing Angélil’s death. He hopes that their close bonds would support the singer during that incredibly difficult time. Céline has canceled all of her shows at the Las Vegas Colosseum and is tentatively scheduled to return on Feb. 23. Angélil discovered Céline when she was only twelve years old and took her from talented teenage singer to the apex of international stardom. Business partners and, later, couple, the pair enjoyed a loving personal and professional relationship of more than three decades that produced three children, an armful of awards and records that sold millions of copies worldwide.
Public sector demonstrations are still not over. The Fédération autonome de l’enseignement (FAE) held a protest rally Saturday afternoon in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood to protest budget cuts. “Why did we choose this neighbourhood? Because [Quebec Premier] Philippe Couillard’s decisions affect everyone, but the vulnerable especially,” said FAE president Sylvain Mallette, referring to the fact that the demonstration stopped in front of schools and welcome centres that either took care of children with special needs or were located in underprivileged neighborhoods. Teachers said that they felt that they lacked adequate resources to properly teach their classes. “I have half of my class that needs special treatments, but nobody’s going to help me with them,” said high school teacher Brigitte Veilleux, adding “I get to deal with all of that at the same time that I handle 20 other kids. That’s not okay.”
Not all of this week was shrouded in negativity though. The annual highly anticipated Fête des neiges kicked off on schedule this Saturday at Parc Jean-Drapeau. The winter festival will take place every weekend from Jan. 16 to Feb. 7. Thrill seekers will enjoy sliding down the 15-meter zip-line, while souls of the more contemplative kind will be able to admire the beautiful Montreal evening cityscape on a refrigerated skating rink. Check out the full range of fun activities available here.