On October 31, he went to Old Quebec near where he lived to take a walk. It takes rue Saint-Jean to the Notre-Dame basilica-cathedral, then it takes rue du Trésor and goes to Place d’Armes, opposite Château Frontenac.
At 10:18 p.m., he takes a photo and sends it to a friend. He puts his phone away and climbs the steps leading to the vault of the Castle. This is when the killer arrives at him. He then wears a kind of hat, pants “a little special”, a cape and holds a sword in his hand.
“I think he’s a hot Halloween guy who’s going to make a tasteless joke. That he’s going to pretend to hit you just to make you sick. I never thought he was going to hit me, ”says Bélanger.
But the saber came down directly to his head. He fell, dizzy, but never lost consciousness. “What are you doing here?” he threw at her, not thinking of retaliating while he was still being beaten. At that precise moment, he told himself that his only chance to get out was to cry out for help.
He fled to the fountain where two young people were. After realizing what was happening, they fled. Mr. Bélanger climbed into the fountain in Place d’Armes. “I’m sitting and broken all over,” he recalls. After a while, he goes to the Castle to ask for help.
“It happened so quickly,” he says. Several flashes of this evening sometimes come to mind. Like keeping his severed index finger in his hand.
“I was having x-rays when a doctor asked me what I was holding. I replied, “It’s my finger. I am a musician ””, he explains in substance. Subsequently, he was transferred to Montreal to undergo delicate reimplantation surgery.
His right hand sustained serious injuries. In addition to the index finger, he has his middle and ring fingers severed and his thumb half-amputated. The saber strikes left marks in several other places on his body.
He suffered three skull fractures, fractures to both shoulder blades and one of the two humeruses. The muscles of the shoulder blades are damaged as is a part of the gluteus maximus which is torn and it has lacerations in the lower back. “I heal extremely quickly,” he says, despite this rather dark overview of the body.
Mr. Bélanger recognizes that the context does not lend itself to empathy. Yet this is what lives in him when faced with his attacker. “I was in the ambulance and had already forgiven him.”
If for the majority of victims, the satisfaction is knowing it behind bars, the musician believes more in restorative justice. He wishes he could talk to his attacker.
“I want to know who he is and that he knows who I am. For me, this guy, if he got fucked up by something to do what he did, that’s exactly what could happen to many others. It is difficult to get mental health services. He would have needed a net (…) My satisfaction is knowing that this guy is getting help and that a lot more people are getting help. Three years ago, I was in a situation and I needed to talk. I did not have access to help because it was too expensive for my means. Hopefully we never hear in the media again that people with mental health problems are dangerous people. ”
Message of hope
According to his doctors, everything could come back as before. Mr. Bélanger is willing to join his breath to this wind of optimism, but doubt assails him. “If I come back to 99.5%, it may not be enough for the level I had on cello and piano”, he nuances, while admitting that he has accomplished “no giants ”in its rehabilitation.
At the end of his long 45-minute message, he says he has a thought for high school and CEGEP students. “If it’s really hard to do homework, I just got 8-10 blows of the sword. I’m doing well and it’s going well. That faque, eh, we will study and it will be fine. The guy here, survived. You too are capable. “
Mr. Bélanger wishes he had inspired people with his testimony. He finds the strength to continue in the words of encouragement received and in the attention of his relatives and the medical team.
Even today, he wonders why his attacker did not “finish” him. He dares to believe that he managed to touch a little humanity by calling for help, lying on the ground by force of blows.