'Why I didn't get killed?': Survivor of N.S. mass shooting struggles in 'year from hell'
HALIFAX -- To say the last year has been difficult for Leon Joudrey would be an understatement.
"It's been a year, a year from hell," he said.
For two years, Joudrey called the picturesque community of Portapique, N.S., home. But these days, he can't bring himself to live there.
"It's hard going back in there because you see all the burnt foundation of one of my neighbours and the memorial signs and it's a hard thing," said Joudrey. "Your home should be your comfort and it's not comfortable."
Joudrey was home on Saturday, April 18, 2020, the night a lone gunman went on a murderous rampage that started in Portapique and ended nearly 100 kilometers away in Enfield, N.S., the following day.
The shooter's common law spouse came to Joudrey's house that Sunday looking for help.
"Why I didn't get killed that night, it's hard to deal with when all my friends and neighbours did, and to wake up to the aftermath was just horrific," he said.
"I spent time with the Blairs and the Tucks, and Frank and Dawn, they were my neighbours, and Peter and Joy, they lived down the end of the road -- and Lisa McCully of course. So yeah, basically over half the people I knew got killed."
TRAGEDY AFFECTING WHOLE COMMUNITY
The last year has been challenging for many in Portapique and the surrounding communities.
"There is fear, there is anxiety, there is distrust," said Josh Fillmore, associate pastor of the Faith Baptist Church in nearby Great Village, N.S.
"In our church and in our community there are people who are not going too far from home these days. Not doing their daily walk on the shoulder of the road out of fear. But the bigger concern is for the people who are not connected. We believe there's a lot of suffering in silence behind closed doors."
Social worker Serena Lewis says the way each person deals with grief is unique and that this tragedy requires a complex approach and long-term planning.
"I really think that this time last year the world responded to us when we were brought to our knees," said Lewis.
"Some people have told me post-causality events across the globe that we could be looking at a 20-year process of healing, so it's important that we look at all of the different services we have but do we need unique services for something like this," she said.
SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS
Tom Taggart, the councillor for the area, says the only way the community will heal is when they finally get answers about what happened.
"Until that happens, there will never be an end to this, the hurt the pain and all that kind of stuff," said Taggart.
"As far as the process, the inquiry goes, I think everybody would agree with me that it's taken too long and families have been suffering and they want closure, answers," said Joudrey. "We're not getting the answers, we're not getting the closure and to go through this again for another year and then see where we stand, I hope we're further ahead than we are now."
While he waits for answers, Joudrey is trying to move forward the best he can.
"I do love the outdoors and I got two dogs that love it too, so that keeps me going," he said. "I never thought I'd find myself in this position, but what you go through is 'why not me?' Why you know that's part of it. What could you did to stop it. Yeah, it just plays on your mind 24-7."