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Ombudsman’s statement on the anniversary of Nova Scotia mass shooting

Today marks the anniversary of the tragic mass shooting of April 18-19, 2020 in Nova Scotia. On this day one year ago, 22 individuals lost their lives in a senseless act of violence. Today we remember:

Lisa McCulley
Heather O’Brien
Kristen Beaton
Jolene Oliver, Emily Tuck, and Aaron Tuck
Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins
Jamie and Greg Blair
Gina Goulet
Tom Bagley
Joey Webber
Corrie Ellison
Lillian Campbell
Peter and Joy Bond
Frank and Dawn Gulenchyn
John Zahl and Elizabeth Joanne Thomas
Constable Heidi Stevenson

We respect, remember, and honour the memories of the victims. We also acknowledge the loss, pain, and suffering of their family members and friends, and our thoughts are with them and the community today. This act of violence caused immeasurable grief and lifelong impacts that have been felt deeply not only in Portapique, but also throughout Nova Scotia, and across the country. We stand in solidarity with the community of Portapique on this day.

Increasing gun violence in Canada is a grave danger to public health, as are the rising rates of domestic violence with which it is sometimes connected. They pose a threat not only to their direct victims; but also to entire communities, and our society as a whole. The impacts are widespread, devastating, and damaging. I firmly believe that now more than ever, we must act to address the roots of mass shootings and gun violence. It is important that we work holistically and collectively to address gender-based violence, and this is especially true for vulnerable populations of people such as women, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, Indigenous people, refugee and immigrant people, racialized individuals, and people with disabilities. What happened in Portapique demonstrates the seriousness and danger of gun violence, domestic violence and violence against women.

To prevent such tragedies, we must act before violence occurs. I will continue to recommend the inclusion of upstream violence prevention strategies as part of Canada’s pandemic response and recovery plan in my role as Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. I stress that access to timely information for victims of crime is imperative in the aftermath of crime and trauma. I also stress that we must listen to the voices of victims, their families and friends, and affected communities; their resilience must be acknowledged, and their lived experiences must continue to guide the way on any strategies directed at addressing collective violence. We look forward to the upcoming work of the Mass Casualty Commission, a Joint Federal/Provincial independent public inquiry to examine among other things, the steps taken to inform, support and engage victims, families and affected citizens.

I take a moment to thank the victim service providers and other professionals who have stood alongside the families to support them through this tragedy.

To the victims’ family members, who prepare to walk in commemoration of their lost loved ones, we walk alongside you today.


Heidi Illingworth
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime