Nova Scotia Remembers: Virtual vigil pays tribute to 22 victims of mass killing
HALIFAX -- Nothing heals the heart like music.
A bevy of Nova Scotia musical talent performed some sorrowful tunes during Friday night's virtual vigil for the 22 victims of last weekend's mass murder.
"There's a proud tradition in this part of the world," said actor Jonathan Torrens, who has lived in Colchester County for 12 years. "Sometimes, when there are no words, we turn to song."
Fiddler Nathalie MacMaster provided one of the more poignant moments of the two-hour long vigil when she played a virtual duet with Emily Tuck, the youngest of the 22 innocent people killed last weekend.
MacMaster watched the 17-year-old Tuck delight watchers in the Ultimate Online Nova Scotia Kitchen Party COVID-19 edition Facebook group with a lament on the fiddle.
"I thought I would unite myself to her performance and play this tune for all the souls who lost their lives," said MacMaster, who let Tuck take the lead and then joined her, matching note for note.
"To my dear Nova Scotia, we are there with you in the deepest of ways. Your charitable spirit that I witnessed so much in my youth will not let you down now. … You are a strong bunch, and you'll stay strong," MacMaster said before putting her fiddle to her shoulder and provide the signature moment of the vigil.
Co-organizer Mary Teed says it was important to mourn together as a province and as a country, especially since measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 are preventing people from consoling each other in person.
“We are stronger together, we are Nova Scotia strong,” says Teed. “When the chips are down we come together and we can get through this.”
The Stanfields, a Nova Scotia-based band, was one of the musical acts taking part in the vigil.
“When you're asked to contribute in some small way to help our community and the victims deal with something like this, the answer is yes, always,” says Jon Landry, lead singer for The Stanfields.
“These people are working non-stop to provide some sense of normalcy in a grieving process that the current pandemic is not allowing us as a community to do.”
Other musician who performed included Jenn Grant, Reeny Smith, Rose Cousins, George Canyon, Dave Gunning, J.P. Cormier, and Matt Minglewood.
In addition to musical tributes, there were spiritual leaders and guest speakers, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says it was difficult to find the words to express how he felt.
"How do you make sense of something so senseless," McNeil said. "What happened here in Nova Scotia doesn't define us. It may change us a little, but it will not define us."
Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair hopes the tribute will offer comfort during an unprecedented time.
“I think it's wonderful, something that was pulled together in a typical Nova Scotia way in order to support so many people,” says Blair.
“The families of those victims need to know that we are out there and supporting them in this dreadful situation.”
Many former Nova Scotian sent heartfelt messages from across Canada.
TSN anchor James Duthie, who grew up on Flamingo Drive in Halifax and whose dad was an RCMP officer, was one of them.
"I love you, all of Canada loves you, and we're hurting with you," Duthie said.
After the vigil was over, Tory Phinney, the other co-organizer was awed by the tributes and talent.
"The grieving process hasn't even really stated yet," Phinney said. "We have a long road ahead of us."
For those who wish to pay their respects or make online tributes, you can visit the Colchester -- Supporting Our Communities public group on Facebook.