In Nova Scotia the death of 22 individuals marks us all. Few of us are more than two removes from someone who died or was bereaved by the dreadful murders that marred the peace of our province last weekend.
I am a family doctor who has worked for over forty years in the epicentre of this tragedy, the town of Elmsdale a few kilometers from the service station in Enfield where the monster who initiated this tragedy was taken down by brave officers of the RCMP.
I first heard of the events last Sunday morning when I was made aware that this twisted predator was passing through the town of Stewiacke. “My God,” I thought. My daughter’s horse is there and she often is out riding on Sundays. A quick call reassured me that she was still safe at home in bed. Not so my daughter’s neighbour one street over, RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson who now lay dead a short drive up the road in Milford after bravely ramming the fake squad car driven by the perpetrator who I will not dignify with a name . While the Constable was dragged from her vehicle and coldly executed one of my co-workers cowered alone in her home, a few hundred meters away from this horrific scene.
As the names of the victims gradually came out I felt a growing sense of shock and horror. But one name electrified me, that of a man I had known for many years and to whose family I had provided care for decades. One has heard the names of the tragic victims of massacres in the past and felt sympathy for their families…but somehow the horror is magnified tenfold when one of those names is attached to a dear acquaintance.
The story of how my gentle friend ventured forward to offer his help rolled off the lips of his sobbing widow as I tried to comfort her. He was snuffed out by an entity posing as an officer of the police with whom he so frequently worked as a first responder. I hope he didn’t last long enough to experience the sense of betrayal this would have engendered.
This tragedy on top of the stressors of isolation caused by the Covid 19 pandemic has ripped through our province. Truly we are a big family, with a population of less than one million we mourn as a whole, comforting each other with music and testimonials in a giant virtual “kitchen party”, a gathering named for the place where Nova Scotians gather on weekends to swap yarns, play music and sing songs, where we down a jar or two of ‘shine and bathe in the warmth and love of communal existence.
We will get through this and emerge stronger, perhaps a bit tougher, but not disillusioned, jaded or cynical. The beauty of our province, the cohesiveness of our people, an amalgam of Scots, Acadians, Mi’kmaw and a hundred other nations, will prevail and our love will shine through to the world to let them know what it means to be a Nova Scotian.
Photo by Ron Cogswell on flickr – Some Rights Reserved