But those won’t come easily, and as Nova Scotia MLA Larry Harrison told The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, making sense of the violence is only one of the struggles facing the tight-knit community.
“People were in shock for the first few days, but now that element of shock is going, and all these feelings now are starting to surface … how could it happen, how did it happen, why did it happen, how did people deal with it. There are so many questions now that are starting to arise,” said Harrison, who represents the riding of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, where the attack happened.
“I’m a little bit concerned that the energy that needs to be put into the healing process for the friends, families, the first responders and RCMP — well, it may hurt that energy a wee bit, and we need it.”
Over the course of 13 hours last weekend, gunman Gabriel Wortman killed at least 22 people in a rampage through six rural communities after attacking his girlfriend.
She escaped and survived after hiding in the woods, ultimately providing key information to police.
Wortman died in an exchange of gunfire with police.
But the response to the crisis — particularly, a lack of emergency alerts — has raised difficult questions and left many struggling to understand how such a thing could happen in the quiet community.
“It has beauty to it; it is serene and people come here, actually, for safety as well because they don’t deal with the stuff that usually happens in a city,” Harrison said.
“All of that now has been put in question, and I’m not sure for us how long it’s going to take to get that sense of serenity and safety back. It’s going to take some time.”
Harrison, who is also a United Church minister, said those struggles are amplified given people can’t grieve with the comfort of others and that he is grappling as well with the challenge of accepting what happened.
“I really can’t. I go to bed at night and I just keep thinking of these 22 people that lost their lives just in a second. They had hopes and dreams, they had a whole life ahead of them, gone,” he said, adding that the outpouring of support from across the country for the community has been inspiring.
Harrison said he, like everyone right now, has no easy answers on how to move forward.
But he said he hopes the people in his community will come together to support each other, even if they have to do it at a distance because of the pandemic.
“The only thing I can say is I — and I hope all the people in the community — are going to put our best selves forward,” he said. “We need our best selves in order to do the healing. It is just so horrific.”