Parents in P.E.I. happy to hear children safe in France

Colin MacLean
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Students from École Pierre-Chiasson in Deblois are traveling through Western Europe this week. They were in Brussels a few hours before a terrorist attack rocked the country Tuesday. From left are Hannah Williams, Emma Doucette, Holly Perry, Jaylynn Shields, T.J Gallant and Felix Deslarosbil.

SUMMERSIDE - There were a few sickening hours Tuesday morning between when Tammy Fields found out about the Belgian terror attacks and when she got word that her daughter was OK.

Fields' daughter is with a group students from École Pierre-Chiasson in Deblois and École Évangéline in Abram-Village that is visiting Canadian military monuments in Western Europe this week.

The group was scheduled to travel through the Belgian capital of Brussels late Monday. A few hours later, on Tuesday morning, three bombs rocked the city while a fourth failed to detonate. The blasts killed more than 30 people and injured dozens more.

The Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attacks Tuesday afternoon.

Fields, who lives in Tignish, started to see social media activity and news posts about the explosions almost as soon as they happened, but it wasn't until a couple of hours later, about 8 a.m., that word came from the student leaders in Europe that the group was OK and had moved on to France long before the bombs had gone off.

Still, it made for a tense couple of hours for many of the parents, said Fields.

"(The parents) are very thankful that everybody is OK," she said.

"A lot of them didn't know until (the group) contacted them and said, 'we are OK'. So they didn't have that initial fear, where I was up and had seen it and knew something was going on."

Émile Gallant, president of the Island's French Language School Board, said the travel group's leaders have been in touch with officials on P.E.I. since news of the attacks broke out.

Most of the kids in the group had been able to make phone calls home throughout the day to update their parents.

Fields' daughter, Jaylynn, reassured her mom, then quickly changed the conversation to the exquisiteness of Belgian chocolate.

Fields also said parents had been informed that the students will be continuing with their tour and returning home as scheduled on Monday, March 28.

She's glad the kids will get to finish their trip, but she and other parents won't truly be at ease until the group is at home.

"She Facetimes me every night, so I'll be very happy for my Facetime tonight."

Organizations: French Language School Board

Geographic location: P.E.I., France, Western Europe SUMMERSIDE Deblois Abram-Village Brussels Islamic Tignish

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