It is a struggle to write this today. I don’t feel that I have the vocabulary to describe what has happened to my home province of Nova Scotia. I have no desire to repeat, once again, all the details that have traveled around the world in news clips since last weekend when this tragic event took place. I do want to say that my heart goes out to everyone personally affected by it. I have no desire to jump on the bandwagons of the critics who are starting to emerge to lay blame on those who worked in vain to bring an end to the situation, except to say walk in their shoes and you may realize that they were in an unprecedented situation and under a lot of pressure.
Mass shootings are rare in Canada. Unlike our neighbour to the south, we don’t have an expanded history of these things. Canadians prefer universal healthcare as a fundamental right over the right to bear arms. We are proud to be a peaceful nation. However my home province, the home of stunning shorelines and beautiful beaches, quaint towns and villages, Peggy’s Cove, The Cabot Trail, the highest tides in the world and Theodore Tugboat, is now the site of a shooting rampage that is the largest in our country’s history. We do not have the tools to cope with an event such as this because it is not something that we ever thought we would have to prepare for.
The communities where these violent events took place are not urban centers where one may expect to be exposed to a certain amount of crime. They are rural communities. One, in particular, has a population of only one hundred people this time of year, swelling to only two hundred and fifty during the summer months when cottagers arrive. Rural Nova Scotia communities are places where children roam and play freely outside without requiring supervision. Places where people walk and hike daily along trails or the sides of secondary highways and roads. Places where homes can be spread apart by some distance but neighbours still know each other. This is one of the reasons I wanted to move back to Nova Scotia twenty-two years ago. I wanted my son to grow up in a place that felt safe, and he did.
Things have changed. It will take some time, but we will get through this. Nova Scotians are strong and stubborn people. We will learn to cope and will not let this defeat us. Furthermore, we will never forget it. It has inherently reshaped who we are and forever altered our behaviour. Whether conscious or unconscious, decisions made by Nova Scotians from this week onwards will be made differently. They will hinge on the knowledge that “IT” can happen here. Future generations will feel it without being able to put a name to what they are feeling. It will be like acknowledging a faint smell of mold where one can’t identify the source. With every decision to lock their doors or step outside their homes and every ring of their doorbells, they will be acutely aware.
Thanks for reading.