As people stay home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, a virtual vigil will be held to honour the victims of Canada’s deadliest mass shooting that took place in rural Nova Scotia over the weekend.
People will be able to watch the online memorial for the victims over Facebook or YouTube at 7 p.m. AT Friday.
The two-hour vigil will be streamed through the Facebook group Colchester — Supporting our Communities.
Global News will also be airing the vigil on its Maritime stations and will stream it over YouTube, Facebook and GlobalNews.ca. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. AT/6 p.m. ET.
The shooting rampage claimed the lives of at least 22 victims, including an RCMP officer, a 17-year-old girl, a teacher and a nurse, leaving many people mourning in rural Nova Scotia and all across Canada.
“In a small community like ours, everybody knows one another,” said Tory Phinney, a co-organizer of the vigil who lives in Bass River in Colchester County, N.S., close to where much of the weekend’s horrors occurred.
“A time like this is when we would be together at a church, at a community hall, at a fire hall, delivering food and well wishes and joining together in groups, and we can’t do that. But we do have to come together.”
The Colchester — Supporting our Communities Facebook group was set up to allow people to come together, share their experiences and express their emotions in a time where people can’t physically gather together due to safety measures enacted to curb the spread of COVID-19.
A website has also been launched that lists verified GoFundMe pages to support the victims’ families.
“In the vigil on Friday, there’s going to be a variety of folks communicating their sympathies,” Phinney said. “As Maritimers, we often come together through music, and we’re going to see that Friday night.”
During the vigil, Phinney said, there will political, musical and spiritual components.
“Words can’t describe the grief that the community feels,” Phinney said.
“It’s going to take time, and there’s no number to put to it or how long, but this is so much needed.”
The shooting spree that took place over the weekend spanned 12 hours. The suspect, who police say wore an RCMP uniform and drove what appeared to be a police cruiser, targeted people in small, quiet communities in Nova Scotia.
Police have said some of the victims were known to the suspect, who was shot dead on Sunday, but some were not.
While locals are unable to physically gather together to mourn the victims due to the coronavirus, Phinney said this time can be looked at as an opportunity to bring more people together than normal.
“There will be a time where we can come together again in person, in groups, and we’re looking to the future as well,” he said.
“I know we can’t do that right now, but one of the key points here is not to lose our identity as a community.”
— With files from Global News’ Graeme Benjamin, Rachael D’Amore and Olivia Bowden