Unifying message: Residents reflect on the meaning of 'Nova Scotia Strong'
HALIFAX, N.S. -- The one-year anniversary of the Nova Scotia mass shooting will be recognized Sunday, as people across the province pay tribute to the 22 lives lost.
The tragedy brought the province together in grief and mourning and the phrase ‘Nova Scotia Strong’ became a powerful unifying message.
Crystal Blair owns a diner in Colchester County. She says she has witnessed the true meaning of ‘Nova Scotia Strong’ first hand.
"Nova Scotians rise up when there's a tragedy, no matter what we're faced with," Blair says.
"The support is going to be there -- and you're not going to have to ask for it, they're just going to come help -- Nova Scotia is all heart."
Customers at the dinner echo the same sentiments.
"I think to me, it means we all come together, to help one another," says Ed Chapman of Glenholme, N.S.
In Truro, symbols of Nova Scotia pride fill the town.
"Together we're better and love always win," says Miriah Kearney, founder of My Home Apparel. "So when we gather together in our strength and in our love, we can overcome really difficult things and I think the last year has really proven that."
In the South Western part of the province, Nova Scotians hold the meaning of the movement close to their hearts.
"Through the very worst that the world throws at us -- what we go through never goes away, it becomes a part of who we are and that makes us Nova Scotia Strong," says Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood.
For Suzy Powley Atwood of Barrington, N.S. the phrase means community.
"In the good times and the bad, you can always rely on a helping hand from a neighbour or a complete stranger," she says.
"Being a strong Nova Scotian means we sing together, we cry together, we dance together," says Yvette D'Entremont of West Pubnico, N.S.
In the Halifax area Krista Alford of Lower Sackville, N.S. sees the silver lining.
"I always think that there's some kind of a positive in everything, and the way that Nova Scotians all came together made me really proud to be Nova Scotian," she says.
Some Bluenosers are reflecting ahead of what will be a sombre Sunday.
"People of Nova Scotia are resilient, but our province will never be the same, in particular those who have lost dear family members and friends -- my thoughts are with them," says former Halifax Councillor Lorelei Nicoll.
In Cape Breton, shooting victim Emily Tuck's former music teacher says the message is particularly poignant.
"I'm proud of the fact that we band together as a community and as a province, regardless of who we are -- to overcome obstacles for the greater good," says Shawn MacDonald, Sydney, N.S.
Cape Breton Mayor Amanda McDougall says Nova Scotia Strong means being able to rely on each other.
"I think it is incredible to know that we have a province filled with human beings that will come and lift us up and take care of us in our moments of pain and suffering," she says.
Nova Scotians living abroad are also sending messages of kindness and courage to loved ones here at home.
"Being strong for another, helping each other out, stepping up to the plate and showing that we love and care for them," says Amherst native Tanya MacDonald Howard, now living in Plano, Texas.
"My heart is always in Nova Scotia, even when I'm away," says Jennifer Salib-Huber, a Dartmouth native living in The Hague, Netherlands. "My thoughts are never far away my family and friends at home."
It's a warm embrace from each corner of the province, and the world, offering support to each other during what's been a difficult year.