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600 pack church to honour Trooper Karine Blais


LES MECHINS, Que. — More than 600 mourners crammed into a church in eastern Quebec on Friday to pay their last respects to Trooper Karine Blais, who died in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan last week.

Hundreds of others milled outside St-Edouard Church in Les Mechins for her funeral, which lasted nearly two hours.

One young woman collapsed in the chuch and had to be carried out by soldiers.

Mario Blais, who was Blais' uncle and godfather, said in his eulogy he hopes war will soon be a thing of the past.

Blais said after his niece's death on April 13 it was time for Ottawa to pull Canadian soldiers out of Afghanistan and that he feared she had died in vain.

On Friday, he remembered his 21-year-old relative as a loving young woman.

“Never forget that we are all very proud of you,” he told the service.

“I love you.”

Town councillor Clement Marceau said he will never forget the warm smiles she gave him every time he walked into the local convenience store, where she worked before joining the military two years ago.

“She was a real nice little girl, a beautiful little girl, and it was her destiny to go to the army and help people,” Marceau said.

Blais was just two weeks into her first tour of duty in Afghanistan when she died.

She was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22e Regiment — also known as the Van Doos — but was a member of the 12e Regiment blinde du Canada.

The funeral was held a day after Maj. Michelle Mendes was found dead in her sleeping quarters at Kandahar Airfield.

Mendes, 30, is the third female soldier to die during the Afghan mission.

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