01/11/2015 06:40 EST | Updated 03/13/2015 05:59 EDT

Toronto joins cities standing in solidarity with France

Addressing a rally in downtown Toronto on Sunday, Mayor John Tory told the crowd that the extremists behind deadly attacks in Paris and other parts of the world are "trying to destabilize and even to destroy the very foundations of the society that we cherish."

Paris was on edge for several days as authorities first found themselves hunting for gunmen who shot 12 people dead Wednesday, including two police officers, in an attack targeting the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper.

A day later, another police officer was killed by a separate gunman and a group of people at a kosher deli were held hostage. The two gunmen from the Wednesday incident were involved in a separate standoff with police at a printing plant.

Within hours, all three gunmen were dead along with four hostages.

Speaking before a crowd gathered at Nathan Phillips Square on Sunday afternoon, Tory said the people behind such actions "must be stopped" and that there is a need to stand together as a society both today and in the future.

"Recent events, including the tragedy in France, are a wake-up call for people like us who far too often need one. We forget that we have lost many people. In past wars, we fought specifically to defend these very same values," he said.

"Sometimes, I think it seems as if we've concluded that our values are so superior that no one would possibly try to destroy them. Well, while our values do represent the gold standard in terms of freedom, we know that it is complacent and dangerous to think that there are no threats to those values."

Tory said those at the rally must stay "determined to defend our shared values, here and abroad, each and every day and to support doing so, actively and together."

Hundreds gathered at the downtown square in solidarity with the people of France and to honour the dead. They carried French flags, signs, as well as pens and pencils — the latter two serving as symbols representing freedom of speech.

Similar rallies were held in Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.

Fabienne Thuet, a dual Canadian and French citizen, was among those who attended the rally in Toronto.

"Nothing can really make you come to terms with such barbaric acts, but it certainly is a validation of how people of all faiths and all colours can come together peacefully," Thuet said. "In a way the terrorists have achieved exactly the opposite of what they wanted to do and that's a beautiful testimony to what we can do as human beings."

Many of those at the Toronto rally also participated in a march to Yonge-Dundas Square.

A massive rally was also held in Paris on Sunday, which is believed to have involved over 1 million people. Images from that event and others around the globe can be viewed in the gallery below.