love and light on Canada’s dark day

nathan cirillo

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

Like many Canadians I found myself glued to the television yesterday.

A gunman had shot and killed a Canadian soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, our nation’s capital.

Several minutes later a gunman burst into Parliament Hill, firing a spray of bullets through the central lobby. To the left and right were the two caucuses, Prime Minister Harper’s in one, and the Opposition party in the other.

Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers

Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers

Our House of Commons’ sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers, contained and then fatally shot the assailant.

His role is a symbolic one; to keep order during legislative meetings at the House.

Yesterday he protected that house, and all inside it.

Parliament Hill and the surrounding buildings remained on lock-down for the next 8 hours as police worked to both secure the area and determine if there was more than one gunman involved. At the writing of this post, it is still not clear if this gunman acted alone.

Worry stemmed from the fact that this attack came just two days after a deliberate attack on two Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal. Witnesses say a man sat in his car for two hours in the parking lot of the base, before driving into the soldiers, one of whom was in uniform. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, has since died from injuries he sustained in the hit and run. The assailant was subsequently shot dead by police.

Two attacks on Canadian soldiers in two cities over three days.

This is Canada. This doesn’t happen here. Does it?

As I sat watching the live updates yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel a certain innocence lost.

Canada the peaceful.

Canada the polite.

Canada the welcoming, inviting, open.

Canada was under attack.

To put the gravity of this situation in perspective, and because many non-Canadians may not be familiar with the terminology of our political system, the American equivalent of yesterday’s events would have looked like this: A gunman goes to Arlington National Cemetery and shoots and kills the soldier standing guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Then a gunman storms Capitol Hill, firing his rifle at those meeting in the U.S. Congress.

This attack was a direct hit at the heart of the seat of power in Canada.

As dark a day as it was, moments showcasing flashes of pure goodness cut through.

helping a fallen soldierFirst there were the private citizens who, after witnessing the horrific and cowardly shooting of unarmed, 24 year old, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the Cenotaph, rushed to perform CPR and provide support until EMS arrived. They put themselves at risk, unclear if there was more than one gunman, to help our fallen soldier.

Thank you for your bravery and kindness. I hope it brought comfort to Cirillo in his final moments.

And last night, our beautiful friends and neighbours in Pittsburgh demonstrated a touching show of support when the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise played O Canada at their game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The words to our national anthem scrolled across the jumbo-tron as the entire surface of the ice became awash with red and white.

This is brotherly love, and a reminder that there is good all around us. Thank you, friends.

And finally, a beautiful example of the type of reporting that should be delivered after a heinous event like this one. Rex Murphy does not spend time fear-mongering. He doesn’t invest any precious time discussing the assailant; he doesn’t even utter his name. Instead he focuses on the two who matter most in yesterday’s events, Cirillo and Vickers. Two Canadian heroes.

Rex Murphy makes me very proud to be a Canadian.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

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74 thoughts on “love and light on Canada’s dark day

  1. My deepest sympathies to the families who were involved, and to Canadians everywhere. Reading that O Canada was played at the hockey game literally brought tears to my eyes. This is the scourge of our generation, but together we stand.

  2. We are ALL American’s….. North American’s who need to stick together. Condolences for the atrocity your country endured. It’s a sad state of affairs these days with no clear answer.

  3. That Canada should be a target of attack is beyond me; as you said, Canada has always been a place of peace. Blessings to all Canadians, and I pray that no more evil happens there.

  4. I add my support to those above!!
    Speaking from a country that has known acts of terrorism for as long as I can remember (and longer!) being used to it doesn’t make it any better, and it would have been nice if there could have been at least one place where this sort of thing didn’t happen!
    It is lovely to hear of the support for Canada from around the world

  5. Even though I’m still in shock, the sad reality is yes it does happen here. Ecole Polytechnique, Dawson College, the attack on the Quebec legislature in 1984, and several other incidents elsewhere across the country where deranged individuals snapped, with tragic results.
    Each time we all stared at each other in stunned amazement and told ourselves that this stuff doesn’t happen here, while doing very little to prevent it from happening again.
    I think what bothers me most, aside from the obvious senseless loss of inocent lives, if how easy it was to enter the Parliament buildings with a gun. I think back to my last visit there 7-8 years ago. One armed guard outside the main entrance, and two more inside manning the metal detector – that was it.
    Something tells me that this time around visits are going to get a lot more complicated.
    All in all, a sad sad day in our history.

    • Norm, I thought the same thing yesterday, especially when I did the mental comparison in my head to what the equivalent US attack would have looked like. There is no chance a gunman carrying a large rifle could have made it across Capitol Hill unnoticed. We clearly have some work to do as it relates to security.

      A sad day in our history, indeed.

  6. This is all so senseless. All these jihadists have done (if it was indeed a jihadist) was make another enemy and strengthen Canada’s resolve to ensure their elimination. I really, really wish these guys would realize the fruitlessness of their endeavors and put their guns down. This is accomplishing nothing.

    That being said, it is good to see how people pull together in horrific times such as these. I’m sorry the “War on Terror” has made it’s way to your doorstep.

    • Senseless. Cowardly. Horrific.

      The two individuals who have been shot and killed in association with these attacks both appear to have had extremist views, according to social media. What’s unclear is whether this is a concerted and coordinated set of attacks or just coincidental timing. Either way, a sobering day (and week) for Canadians thus far. Hoping these were isolated incidents and not the first of..

  7. Such a sad day in such a peaceful and friendly nation. We share your pain and thank you for reminding us about the bright spots. We can’t let the bastards take the ability to see the bright side away from us, wherever we are.

    • There is so much good in this world, Lynne. Sometimes it just takes the bad to remind us. xoxo

      p.s. Are you in the Atlanta area? I’m heading to ATL Monday night and will be there through end of day Friday. Let me know if you’re nearby. Would love to meet up.

      • OMG, OMG, YES! I would love to meet up! I am significantly north of Atlanta, but damn close enough to come meet you in real life. 🙂 I will private message you my cell and email on FB and we can coordinate schedules. Can’t wait!

  8. Oh, so sad to hear. I didn’t know, I tend to live in a cocoon since this type of senseless thing outright upsets me. I don’t understand how people can be so evil. Praying for your country’s healing and that things settle down back to normal quickly.

  9. Nancy,

    I was sorry to read yesterday that terrorism had come to Canada. I vividly recall coming into work after 9/11 here in the U.S.A. The security force were all armed with automatic weapons and in full tactical gear. Minus the helmets, the security force continues to be ready for terrorist acts.

    My advice, turn the constant discussion of the events on the news off and only check in once a day. Hearing the constant updates and speculation only makes it worse. It won’t take the pain away but it helps with processing what has happened.

    Take care,
    Patrick.

  10. Such a horrible, tragic event. My heart goes out to Cirillo’s family. It goes to show how none of us are really safe from terrorism, not in this day and age. Heartbreaking to see it happen in Canada.

  11. Oh how awful. This made me very emotional. Some loony tune has gone off the deep end clearly. Probably over some conspiracy theory to do with the govt and armed forces. So shocking for the families of those soldiers. You don’t expect to lose your loved ones on duty at HOME. Awful. 😦

    • Unfortunately more than one loony tune, Em. I’m hoping these were unrelated and just coincidental events, but the fact that both were committed by known extremists, and both targets Canadian soldiers and government officials may be telling. All seems quiet today, so I hoping these were isolated incidents. 😦

      • eeek that’s all too freaky. Hope if there are more that they are able to get to those in time and remove them from the equation. Should help that they now have the info of these two. They should be able to find links if they exist.

      • Absolutely.
        p.s. I’ve just updated the post with a touching video by a local newscaster. It is a perfect example of how these types of heinous acts SHOULD be reported on. Do NOT honour the assailants by sharing their names. Do NOT give them any of the spotlight. Make it about our heroes. I’m proud to be Canadian.

    • Rex Murphy’s report made me cry all over again because of its beauty and its Canadian-ness. Have you seen Justin Trudeau’s address, Laurel? It was brilliant, too. I could have just kept adding clips to this post. So many examples of why we should be so very proud to be Canadian.

      Hugs to you, my friend.

  12. Beautifully said, Nancy. It was a tough day yesterday glued to the TV. You wrote so eloquently what I felt at the core but had no words to express.
    Prior to yesterday, I’m sure most Canadians had no idea of the role of the sergeant-at-arms – let alone his name. Watching the clip of the standing ovation they gave him this morning in the House of Commons was very moving.
    … and yes, the Pittsburg move last night was very touching too … and I’m not a hockey fan (I’m whispering that last part because I don’t think Canadians are allowed to admit that publicly).
    My heart hurts for a family mourning a young man killed paying honour to our war dead.

  13. We rarely watch the news but tuned in last night when we heard what had happened in Ottawa. So sad and senseless. I’m glad that you saw some glimmers of light in the aftermath, NT.

    Have a safe trip to Atlanta.

    • Thanks, NH. I shouldnt be shocked because the truth is no one is immune ftom this type of attack, but still… A sobering day.

      Wish you lived a little closer to ATL! Im looking forward to meeting Lynne!

      • I wish we lived a little closer too ~ it’s about 8 hours each way and not in the cards for me at the moment. If you get within a 2 hours radius, I’ll definitely span the distance . . . with a grin!

        BTW: You are right about Rex Murphy ~ wonderful sum up of a shocking and sad situation!

      • One of these days I’ll get back to FL.

        Isn’t Rex a treat? I love that he didn’t give the shooter what he wanted. That man doesn’t even deserve to have his name mentioned.

    • Its a shame events like these aren’t reported on this way every time. I remenber watching how the Norwegians reported on the mass shooting of those children years ago. They literally refused to print his name. Very different to the sensationalism we usually experience in North America. I’m so impressed with Rex Murphy’s report.

      • I agree completely and always try to not give attention to the news outlets and gossips who want to publicize the evil ones. Our focus should be on the victims and heroes, not anywhere else.

  14. I came to know of the attack at 3am during a Diwali card party in Mumbai. A delightful film playback singer and I were talking about her love of opera and how she hopes to get some lessons while on tour in the US and Canada for the next month.

    Then… she said “Oh I’m so sorry to hear about the shooting in Ottawa.” Huh?! Are you sure you didn’t mean some American city!

    “I understand it happened in Parliament… what a tragedy.” Stunned silence…

    All the way home I tried to get news on the internet on my phone… then put on CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera to get any news…

    IT WAS TRUE

    Thanks for sharing the Rex Murphy link – trust him to put things in perspective.

    • It was a tough day here. Stunned and numb for much of it. So many examples of a truly Canadianized response though. I could have just kept adding links and clips to pieces that left me so very proud to be Canadian.

  15. Hi, Nancy. I’ve had a special love for Canada for years and often thought–still do–that it would be a wonderful land to call home. There’s a sanity and dignity about Canada. This violence in no way diminishes your country’s merits, but it is sad. Sick people shooting each other is epidemic; I’m just sorry it’s visiting my beloved neighbor to the north. Peace (in any case), John

    • Seeing how my country and its people has responded this week fills me with pride. My heart burst with love, standing on a highway overpass for nearly 90 mins, shoulder to shoulder and 4-derp, with my fellow Canadians to pay respects to Cpl Cirillo as his procession made its way from Ottawa to his hometown of Hamilton this evening. Twitter exploded with #highwayofheroes and #ripnathancirillo. So much love and light, John. ❤

    • It was very cruel this past week, Diana. Cpl. Cirillo’s cortege made its way from Ottawa to his hometown of Hamilton, west of Toronto, yesterday. All along the 500 kms, thousands gathered at every highway overpass to pay respects. The small overpass near my home was filled 4-deep and shoulder to shoulder, waiting 90+ minutes for the procession to pass us. A nation mourns this tragic loss.

  16. I know it sounds incredibly naive, but I found myself surprised when the first reports came through and we learned of the violence in Canada. It’s a sad thing to say that I wouldn’t have been shocked if it had been the US, but I was totally caught off-guard as the story unfolded from Canada. And my heart is just sank because I knew how the Canadian people were feeling, and I am so very, very sorry.

    • Heavy hearts last week, Debra. As details start to emerge about both assailants: the driver on Momday and the shooter on Wednesday, it seems there is more to these stories than just a terrorist angle. Both men had a history of mental health issues. It’s clear that we need to do a better job of diagnosing and supporting those battling such issues before they escalate like this. I hope these aren’t filed away as just two isolated extremist acts of terror without looking at the other factors which contributed.

  17. This is so awful Nancy. Our world is in such disarray that these events are becoming somewhat common now. It is horrific. The people that rushed into perform CPR is a lovely reminder of beauty and compassion that still exist despite the horror.

  18. I heard about these horrible news while at my dad’s in Finland. But it’s wonderful that in the midst of such senseless acts there is so much compassion. I agree with you that there’s more good than evil in the universe…and always will be. Hugs

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