Bagpipers worldwide join forces for musical tribute to victims of Nova Scotia mass killing
HALIFAX -- Bagpipers across Nova Scotia and around the world came together Friday morning in a musical tribute to the 22 victims of a killing rampage that took place across the province this past weekend.
“A gentleman named Jon Stone had come with the idea to do this,” says McKinnon.
“I agreed with him and then reached out through the internet to the community of pipers that I’m connected with and it spread to pipers around the world.”
McKinnon posted on Facebook Wednesday, calling on Nova Scotia pipers to take part in the tribute. He asked that pipers dress in their kilts and play “Amazing Grace” at 8 a.m. sharp from wherever they happened to be in the province.
The message spread to pipers all across the world, with musicians taking part from Ontario, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Scotland, and Oman.
“The response has been fantastic,” says McKinnon.
“It’s a pretty tight-knit community of pipers. We are all called upon at different times to play for memorials, funerals, or celebrations; it’s just that kind of instrument. Everyone has been extremely generous with their time and performances.”
Andrew Smith lives in Manotick, Ont. He put on his kilt and took out his pipes for the first time in eight years to take part in the tribute.
“My sister had found out about it on Facebook. She reached out and was like ‘Oh my goodness, you absolutely have to.’ So I dug out the pipes,” says Smith.
Smith says in times of tragedy, the pipes are the first instrument people turn to.
“The pipes are such an emotional instrument,” says Smith.
“Amazing Grace is the perfect tribute, so it’s hard when you are playing and you are thinking of the people who died. It’s emotional, very emotional.”
McKinnon’s friend Brian MacLeod is originally from Baddeck, N.S., but currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“Being so far away from home, the news of the horrible tragedies in Nova Scotia weighed especially heavy on my mind,” says MacLeod.
“I knew Ian McKinnon from way back and I immediately knew that I wanted to take part in this initiative.”
MacLeod says it was a solemn, but gratifying experience.
“Nova Scotia being what it is, we all feel as if we’re part of a large extended family,” says MacLeod.
“(I'm grateful) to be able to contribute and be part of the wider Nova Scotia community in showing my solidarity with the victims and with all those in Nova Scotia who are grieving and mourning.”
Iain Rankin is the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect. He hadn’t played the pipes in many years, but the cause compelled him to picked them up again.
“It is just a small gesture to show that we are with the victims’ families,” says Rankin.
“Where there are boundaries right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to find ways to show them that they are not alone. This is just one way that we are able to show them.”
McKinnon has created a YouTube channel where he is compiling videos of the pipers.
“We are looking forward to sharing that channel out to the families in the community of Colchester County when it’s all finished,” says MacKinnon.
“It’s a very satisfying feeling to know that you can do something, albeit a very small something, to offer some comfort to our fellow Nova Scotians who are really suffering right now as a result of this tragedy.”