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Polytechnique survivor recalls moments of grief, confusion in wake of mass shooting in Nova Scotia

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WATCH ABOVE: Polytechnique survivor shares her experience in wake of mass shooting in Nova Scotia – Apr 20, 2020

A 12-hour shooting spree in Portapique, N.S., over the weekend has claimed the lives of at least 19 people.

While details are slowly coming to light, police said Monday that more victims could be discovered as the investigation continues.

The lone shooter in the attack was also killed, according to police.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia community reeling as shooting spree death toll continues to climb

The shooting is now the deadliest in Canadian history, surpassing the death toll of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal.

Nathalie Provost remembers it all too well. She was shot four times as a gunman entered the engineering school and killed 14 women.

“Confusion, grief and craziness,” are emotions Provost recalls feeling in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

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“I remember very clearly being afraid of becoming completely crazy after Polytechnique,” she said.

READ MORE: Feminism met gunfire at École Polytechnique. It’s taken 30 years to call it what it was

Provost explained how she felt she’d lost all her bearings.

“Everything that can fix our world — our map, our inner map — they collapse in these kinds of events,” she said.

Those feelings of grief and sadness resurfaced as Provost learned of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, knowing all too well the struggle that awaits those trying to make sense of the tragedy.

“I am very, very sad,” she said. “Those families, those cities, those communities — they are completely at loss now, I’m sure.”

And healing can take time, according to Provost.

“You cannot create a map in a moment, so you have to heal before you can recover and you can understand the new world in front of which you have to face.”

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Provost’s feelings of grief were mixed with frustration.

“Now more than ever we need a very strong gun control law,” she said. “We always have to wait for another one. Why, why can’t we do something?”

Provost has long been active with PolySeSouvient, a group that pushes for stricter gun control and includes students and graduates of the Polytechnique engineering school.

Provost was also a member of the federal firearms advisory committee for two years but resigned in July 2019. At the time, she expressed her “extreme disappointment” over the Liberal government’s failure to crack down on assault-style rifles.

READ MORE: École Polytechnique shooting survivor quits panel over Liberal record on assault-style guns

Provost acknowledged there are many priorities at the moment, but nonetheless, she remains hopeful.

“What happened in Nova Scotia must remind us that we have to do something as a society to protect others and is not by doing nothing that we will improve the situation — it’s by creating laws,” she said.

Provost also had a message for Nova Scotians reeling from the tragedy.

“The young Nathalie Provost said on her hospital bed that ‘after a shock of hate I received a shock of love,'” she said.

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“I hope and I pray that people in Nova Scotia will be able to find together to receive the shock of love to be able to overcome the shock of hate.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also reacted to news of the mass shooting on Monday, announcing that flags at city hall were flying at half-mast.

In a post on Twitter, Plante said it was a “tribute to the lives taken in the Portapique massacre in Nova Scotia, and in solidarity with the families and relatives of the victims.”

The tragedy was also top of mind for Quebec Premier François Legault, who began his daily COVID-19 briefing on Monday with a message to Nova Scotians.

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“Before I begin, I want to offer my sympathies, on behalf of Quebecers, to our friends in Nova Scotia who experienced an appalling drama this weekend,” he said.

“Our thoughts are with you, all the people of Nova Scotia.”

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia shooting: Quebec Premier extends his sympathies to all Nova Scotians' Nova Scotia shooting: Quebec Premier extends his sympathies to all Nova Scotians
Nova Scotia shooting: Quebec Premier extends his sympathies to all Nova Scotians – Apr 20, 2020

— With files from Global’s Jamie Orchard, Graeme Benjamin and The Canadian Press

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