Nova Scotians pay tribute to mass shooting victims
HALIFAX -- With a week having past since the murders, Nova Scotians have had time to absorb the magnitude of the mass shooting that took the lives of 22 people.
It was an emotional scene on Sunday in Debert, N.S., as mourners came together to honour two women -- victims of the deadly shooting rampage earlier last weekend.
Victoria Order of Nurses staff prepared to lead a memorial parade Sunday evening as a tribute to their fallen fellow workers, Kristen Beaton and Heather O'Brien – following the route Beaton took last Sunday – the day she died.
A convoy of the women's friends, as well as people touched by the tragedy, drove past the Beaton house Sunday. In addition, they came together on Facebook and raised $12,000.
"I'm just thankful for everyone's support," says Jake Boutilier, who created a Facebook group in honour of the women. "I'm devastated for everyone's loss. It's a sin for everybody. The turnout – I have no words."
In the week since her death, Kristen's husband, Nick Beaton, has been dealing with the grief of losing his wife and the pain of knowing their son, Daxx, no longer has a mom.
Beaton also issued a challenge to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, demanding more personal protective equipment for front-line healthcare workers – and some have answered the call.
Hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser and actor Ryan Reynolds will be sending materials to Nova Scotia through the program "Conquer COVID-19" to honour Kristen Beaton and Heather O'Brien.
And it's already sparked an outpouring of generosity.
"I got three confirmed shipments, Hayley Wickenheiser and Ryan Reynolds reached out – they're doing something; not confirmed on how much yet," says Beaton. "I have another lady who gave me a contact out from Chicago and another person from Halifax. So, there are three major shipments coming in and I handed it off to Joanne Pourier, which is the CEO of VON, and she's more than willing to help in any way."
Tributes to those who died are everywhere. The Canadian embassy was vivid red in Washington; Peggy's Cove was lit up in blue light on Saturday night; and on Sunday in Dartmouth, residents came to sing at a memorial located at RCMP headquarters – which continues to grow.
Residents, like Bernard Gagnon, continue to mourn the loss of Const. Heidi Stevenson, who died while responding to the active shooter situation.
"It's really special – especially for what she did," says Gagnon, who visits the memorial daily to honour the fallen officer and all 22 victims. "I don't know how to describe it. It's emotional to see what the memorial came from in day one and right now."
And the support continues from groups like the Maritime Junior Hockey League, which announced a donation of $5,000 from Maritime NHL'ers for Kids on Sunday. The funds will go to the league's Nova Scotia Victims Fund, which was established in the aftermath of the deadly shootings.