It’s been a week since the Nova Scotia shootings. A week of grief, mourning, and remembering.
In the days and weeks ahead, as we attempt to make sense of this attack, we also remember that there are many who are still mourning. Each of the 22 victims had those who loved them dearly, and we keep their grief in focus as we engage in the difficult conversations that will follow.
We at YWCA Halifax, along with many others, suspected this event may be rooted in violence against women. We already know that the men in Toronto’s van murders and the Montreal Polytechnique shootings were both fueled by misogyny. As details have emerged, our suspicions about the Nova Scotia shooter were confirmed.
Gender-based violence has a deep impact on everyone in our communities. Women and trans people who are victims and survivors are most affected. But men who are caught in the cross-hairs, parents who lose their sons and daughters, and children who lose their mothers, are also affected. In a recent meeting with a high level civil servant with the federal government about the importance of women’s housing, he shared that he was intimately aware of this issue as he had watched his mother suffer at the hand of his father and that they had been uprooted and homeless as they fled for safety.
The rage against women that is realized in this type of staggering violence is enough to rock our province and our nation off our feet. Our sense of security is uprooted. The emergency alerts at the end of last week revealed just how wounded we have all become.
Many of the staff and volunteers at YWCA Halifax who walk alongside women and girls have also been unmoored. We’re thankful for the team at Fire Inside for facilitating debrief sessions for our team. For us, we are taking care of our people so that YWCA Halifax can continue to stand alongside victims of violence and their families, just as we have for almost 145 years. And we will also continue to work with boys on cyberviolence, with employers on workplace culture, and to be a strong voice on this issue.
We invite all Nova Scotians to join us, and the many agencies, activists, journalists and citizens who tirelessly advocate for the structural and cultural changes required to eliminate gender-based violence. There are many resources in our communities. If you don’t know where to begin, call us. We continue to serve during the pandemic.
Miia Suokonautio and the YWCA Halifax team