Colleagues, friends and family of health-care workers Heather O’Brien and Kristen Beaton paid tribute to their memories on Sunday night with a special memorial drive through rural Nova Scotia.
The Victorian Order of Nurses Canada organized the convoy of vehicles, which drove from Masstown to Debert, N.S. — a route travelled by both Beaton and O’Brien often as they cared for their many clients.
“One of the workers was driving that morning from one client in Masstown to a client in Debert and she never made it, so this is our way of finishing their final route,” VON continuing care assistant Jocelyn Duguay told Global News.
O’Brien and Beaton were among the 22 killed in the mass shooting last weekend — a tragedy that has brought millions of Canadians together in demonstrations of solidarity for Nova Scotia. The massacre is considered the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.
The convoy of cars, decorated in banners and signs, stopped at the roadside memorials for both Beaton and O’Brien to observe a moment of silence before completing the route. Both women are described as dedicated professionals who cared deeply for their patients.
Duguay worked with Beaton and O’Brien for six years out of the VON office in Truro, N.S.
“They were very committed and hard-working, compassionate towards their clients. They were very easy to work with,” she said. “You could tell they both loved what they did.”
O’Brien, a lifetime resident of Masstown, was a licensed practical nurse, wife, mother and grandmother.
Beaton, a continuing care assistant for five years, was a strong supporter of wearing personal protective equipment during the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic, and recently urged friends and family to stay home in order to keep everyone safe.
According to VON Canada, the memorial drive also served another purpose: boosting the community confidence in the aftermath of a tragedy.
“We all lost a little sense of security in our hometown and in the community, so I’m hoping it brings us all a little comfort for those that are going to continue to travel that route to care for their clients,” said Duguay.
With files from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore