Simple, poignant church service honours the memory of people killed in N.S. tragedy
TRURO, N.S. -- A simple, poignant church service in Truro on Sunday gave the families and so many others an opportunity to remember, reflect, and honour the lives of those who were killed one year ago.
Quintessentially Nova Scotian, it was the sound of the pipes that welcomed families to First United Church, a rare opportunity to come together in a place reserved only for them.
After a brief welcome, there was two full minutes of silence in memory of 22 lives lost and an unborn baby a year ago, represented by well-worn stones at the front of the church.
The service was one of a number of events organized by the Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society, a non-profit that evolved from a Facebook group devoted to the tragedy.
The goal now is to provide continuing support to the families and the affected communities.
"We have all suffered so much this year, that it's our intention to bring some light an beauty to our lives on this dark day," said Jenny Kierstead, the sister of Lisa McCully.
There was plenty of music, including big names like country stars Johnny Reid and Brett Kissel.
Melanie Doane performed The Rose following a particularly poignant moment -- the laying of flowers in honour of lost loved ones.
And there were official messages, too, including a few words from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who spoke directly to the families.
"You are not alone," Trudeau said. "All Canadians stand with you, and grieve with you today and always. This tragedy should never have happened; not in a place like Portapique, not in Nova Scotia, not anywhere in Canada."
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin spoke in person at the ceremony, and seemed genuinely moved as he referenced every victim without using names.
"They live on in you," Rankin said. "The families who loved them and the friends who longed for them, and in the hearts of Nova Scotians, who honour them today and always. This is their legacy."
After Heather Rankin reminded those gathered they're never alone, there was a final message from the minister of First United.
"They are with us, and among us and live through us another day," said Rev. Valerie Kingsbury.
Tributes continue on Monday. There'll be another moment at silence at RCMP headquarters and provincial flags will remain at half-mast until sunset on Monday - all in memory of those lost one year ago.