MONTREAL — A professional musician who survived the deadly Halloween night sword attack in Quebec City says he forgives his aggressor, despite being left with devastating injuries that threaten his ability to make a living.
Remy Belanger de Beauport described his ordeal in a 45-minute video recorded from his hospital bed and uploaded to Facebook Wednesday.
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Belanger de Beauport, a freelance professional cellist, said he was walking near the Chateau Frontenac in Old Quebec City on Oct. 31 when he was approached by a man with long hair and a cape who was carrying a sword.
At first, Belanger de Beauport assumed the man intended to play a Halloween joke on him, he recounted. “He lifted his sword in the air, I never thought he would hit me with it, I thought he was pretending,” he said in the video. “And he brought it right down on my head.”
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Two people died and several were injured in the attack, including Belanger de Beauport. Twenty-four-year-old Carl Girouard is facing two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.
Belanger de Beauport recalled shouting for help in English and French as his assailant continued to deliver blows. He said that at one point during the attack, he looked at the ground and saw his own severed index finger lying next to him. The musician said he picked it up and closed his fingers around it, promising himself not to drop it.
The attack over, a bloodied Belanger de Beauport said he crawled into a fountain. He was later able to drag himself to the Chateau Frontenac, where employees saw him and called for help.
The cello player remains in hospital, suffering from injuries that include multiple fractures to his skull, to both shoulder and one arm, as well as damage to his throat. Belanger de Beauport’s thumb was partially amputated, two other fingers were nearly sliced through, and his right index finger had to be reattached — devastating injuries for a professional cello player.
But despite the trauma, Belanger de Beauport said he bears no ill will toward his attacker. “I was in the ambulance on Oct. 31 and I’d already forgiven him,” he said. Belanger de Beauport said he believes the suspect likely suffered from mental health challenges and was only a “shell” of his true self.
“I think if he let me live, or abandoned me or was distracted by other people, maybe it’s because at one time, I yelled loud enough for help, that I touched the little part of him that remained inside that shell of a body, of violence, and maybe that’s why he left me,” he said in the video.
Calls for mental health help
Belanger de Beauport said he has no desire to see his assailant punished. Instead, he’s hoping for a process of what he calls “transformative justice” that would see his attacker get the mental health care he needs. He said he’d also like to meet his attacker one day to learn more about him.
Following the attack, Belanger de Beauport was sent to a Montreal hospital where he underwent several surgeries, including the one to reattach his finger. Now back in Quebec City, he’s slowly recovering from his injuries and is vowing to continue his career as an improv cello musician, at whatever level he is able to play.
“Regardless of the state of my hand, the state of my body, I’m still a musician,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov 19, 2020.