At least 22 people — including a member of the RCMP — were killed during a shooting rampage in multiple rural Nova Scotia communities over the weekend.
The rampage is considered the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.
It claimed the lives of people from all walks of life, including a teacher and workers on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This happened in small towns – Portapique, Truro, Milford, and Enfield – they’re places where people have deep roots, places where people know their neighbours and look out for one another,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.
“There, everyone knows a Mountie, because they’re everything from police officers to social workers to teen counselors. Now, these communities are in mourning and Canada is in mourning with them.”
Trudeau said a virtual vigil will be held on April 24 to honour the lives lost.
Here is what we know about the victims:
Const. Heidi Stevenson
The RCMP confirmed on Sunday that Const. Heidi Stevenson died while responding to the shooting.
Stevenson, a 23-year member of the force, leaves behind her husband and two children.
Nova Scotia commanding officer Lee Bergerman said she met with Stevenson’s family Sunday afternoon.
“There are no words to describe their pain,” she said. “Two children have lost their mother, and a husband has lost his wife. Parents have lost their daughter, and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute to Stevenson during a press briefing in Ottawa.
“She died protecting others,” he said. “She was answering the call of duty, something she had done every day when she went to work for 23 years.”
According to her obituary, Stevenson grew up in Antigonish and graduated from Acadia University with a Bachelor of Science in 1993, where she started a part time job with Campus Safety and Security and her passion for policing was born.
“Heidi loved her chosen career. There was no doubt in her mind when she graduated from Acadia that her next step was going to be the RCMP,” her obituary reads. “Reaching that goal wasn’t always easy but her incredibly strong work ethic, driven personality and resilient nature got her to exactly where she wanted to be.”
“Whether it was general duty, community policing, communications or training, Heidi dedicated herself to her role, turned her colleagues into friends and was a role model for many in the communities she served.”
She met her husband Dean while working as a High School Liaison Officer at Cole Harbour District High in 1997, according to her obituary.
“Their life together has truly been filled with love, laughter and adventure.”
Stevenson is being described as the neighbour who waved at everyone, the busy parent who volunteered at the school, and the friend who delivered cinnamon buns and homemade bread.
“She was the gentle smile when you needed it most. Heidi made an impact on this world and words can’t begin to express how much she will be missed.”
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) confirmed that one of its members was a victim of the shooting.
The NSTU says McCully was a teacher at Debert Elementary.
“9,300 NSTU hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary, as well as her family and friends who knew her not only as a passionate teacher but as a shining love in their lives,” the NSTU said in a statement.
According to her obituary, McCully excelled in ballet and piano in her early years, teaching small children piano during high school. She was also her high school’s student council president.
McCully earned an Art degree Mount Allison, effortlessly becoming fluent in French, Spanish and English.
“She truly had the gift of gab. With a degree under her belt, Lisa and her sister, Jenny, drove across Canada to Vancouver, where they each found teaching positions,” reads her obituary.
After 10 years out west, she returned east to be closer to family and began teaching in Nova Scotia.
“Lisa had an infectious personality with a ready sense of humour. She lived life 200 percent and was the life of every party,” her obituary reads.
“To know Lisa was to know life in full colour.”
Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton
In a statement on its website, VON Canada confirmed two of its employees, Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton, died during Sunday’s shooting.
“All of our front-line care providers are heroes,” VON Canada said. “Yesterday, two of those heroes, Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton, were taken from their families, and from VON.
“We mourn their loss, and we mourn for their families.”
VON Canada says O’Brien was a licensed practical nurse, wife, mother and grandmother.
“She shared her deep caring of others as a VON nurse for nearly 17 years,” the statement reads.
In an obituary posted Tuesday, O’Brien is being remembered for her passion for people and great love for nursing.
“We know that her nursing family will be greatly affected by her loss and we would like to thank them for the years of friendship they shared; she loved you all,” the obituary reads.
According to her obituary, O’Brien was a lifetime resident of Masstown and had a great love for the community she was raised in.
“We have lost an incredible woman, with a heart of gold, but we know that she’s smiling watching us,” the obituary reads. “Her spirit will live on in her children and grandchildren for many years to come.”
VON says Kristen Beaton was a continuing care assistant and a young wife and mother.
“Kristen began work with VON nearly six years ago and, like Heather, was a caring and compassionate member of the VON team,” the statement continues.
In a statement, the Nova Scotia General Employees Union (NSGEU) said Beaton was a continuing care assistant for five years.
“She dedicated her working life to caring for Nova Scotia’s most vulnerable,” the statement reads. “She was killed on the job, doing this critical work during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In the aftermath of her loss, the NSGEU says Beaton’s husband is advocating for proper protections and equipment for all of the coworkers who remain on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She cried every day before and every day after work, scared to bring this COVID home to her son who she loved more than I could even imagine anyone could love,” Beaton said on Facebook.
“We need to be her voice now.”
Sean McLeod and Alanna Jenkins
A couple – both of whom were correctional officers – are among those killed.
Sean McLeod worked at the Springhill institution for more than 20 years and Alanna Jenkins worked at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro.
Taylor McLeod, Sean’s daughter, told The Canadian Press the couple deeply loved and cared for her, her little sister and Taylor’s daughter.
“They would have done anything for anybody and they always made sure people were welcome in their home,” she said.
Greg Blair and Jamie Blair
Greg and Jamie Blair, two Nova Scotia natives with a love for the outdoors, were gunned down in their home in Portapique, N.S.
Greg, 46, and Jamie, 40, were business owners and operators in Truro. Their company sold and installed natural gas and propane units in the area.
They left behind four children: Tyler, 27, Craig, 24, Alex, 11, and Jack, 10. Kelly Dawn Blair, Greg’s older sister, has said the eldest son will take care of his younger brothers.
“Ty is great with the kids, always has been,” said Blair. “It’s just hard to believe. I still don’t believe it.
“I just wish they were still here and we could celebrate with them tomorrow or this weekend.”
Alec Gratto, Jamie’s brother, described her as “outgoing and fun-loving” with a distinctive laugh that could be heard across the room.
“She was always the life of the party,” he told Global News. “No matter how of us were together, you knew when Jamie was laughing.
“I know that I’ll never physically see her again, but that doesn’t live on in spirit, in memories, in videos, pictures.”
Gratto said he and his sister always aimed to “bring happiness wherever we go, light up a room,” and do their best to “make people see the bright side.”
His wife, Brittney Gratto, remembers Jamie as a wonderful and generous cook, and someone who always “made everybody laugh.”
Jolene Oliver, Aaron Tuck and Emily Tuck
Calgarian Shelly Maclean told 770 CHQR. that her cousin Aaron (Friar) Tuck, his wife Jolene Oliver and their 17-year-old daughter Emily Tuck were killed during Sunday’s shooting.
“Everybody is completely consumed in grief and sadness at this point,” Maclean said during an interview.
Maclean said she first heard of her family’s casualties from residents near the shooting at around 11 p.m. on Sunday evening. She said the hardest part of the situation is being confined to Calgary — due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic –during her family’s time of need.
“Not being able to go in a time like this is really difficult because it’s such tight community. Everybody wants to come together at a time like this.”
A GoFundMe page has been started for the family,
According to their obituaries, Aaron Todd “enjoyed get-togethers with family and friends around a good fire, listening to his records, and staying connected to friends….with a few drinks.”
Jolene Lori Oliver enjoyed writing poetry, was an avid birdwatcher and had a passion for nature.
“Jolene enjoyed every aspect of life and was able to see the positive in every situation,” her obituary reads.
Emily Tuck enjoyed playing her fiddle (never call it a violin), creating art and writing poetry, according to her obituary.
“Emily was a bright light to her family and people who had the pleasure of crossing paths with her.”
Dawn Madsen and Frank Gulenchyn
Frank Gulenchyn and Dawn Madsen were confirmed as victims of the shooting in a statement issued by the Regional Municipality of Durham.
“This tragedy hits especially close to home, as two of the victims were long-time Durham residents,” said John Henry, chief executive officer for the Regional Municipality of Durham, in a statement.
Henry said Dawn was a former employee working at the Hillsdale Terraces long-term care home for decades and retired in 2019.
“Our hearts go out to their family and all families affected by this senseless tragedy,” said Henry.
Gina Goulet, a resident of Shubenacadie, N.S., was a two-time cancer survivor and an avid recreational fisher.
Her longtime friend Jodi McMullen told Global News that Goulet had a “zest for life,” and was always looking to try something new.
She leaves behind her daughter and two dogs, one of which received gunshot wounds during the attack.
Ellison, 42, was remembered Monday as a thoughtful, kind friend who went out of his way to help others.
“He’s the type of person that I don’t think anybody would want to see that happen to him,” his father Richard Ellison told The Canadian Press.
Corrie Ellison lived in Truro, N.S., but was visiting his father in Portapique when he was killed. Richard Ellison declined to comment on how his son died.
Ashley Fennell told The Canadian Press she was good friends with Corrie Ellison for almost a decade. She described him as “a beautiful soul.”
Retired firefighter Tom Bagley was identified by his former union UCET as one of the victims of the shooting.
“One of those who lost their lives in this tragedy is Brother Tom Bagley, retired UCTE member, who was an airport firefighter during his career, and also former President of Airport Local 80829 from Halifax until his retirement in 2005,” the union said on Monday evening.
With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey, Maryam Shah, David Lao, Daina Goldfinger and The Canadian Press.