Family and friends of victims attend a march demanding an inquiry into the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia that killed 22 people, in Bible Hill, N.S. on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Women’s rights advocates in Atlantic Canada are calling on people across the country to join a brief general strike on Monday to demand a public inquiry into the deadly mass shootings that took place in Nova Scotia last April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Activists will strike as calls continue for a public inquiry into Nova Scotia massacre

An online petition demanding a public inquiry had garnered over 10,000 signatures

Women’s rights advocates in Atlantic Canada are calling on people across the country to join a brief general strike on Monday to demand a public inquiry into the deadly mass shootings that took place in Nova Scotia last April.

The federal and provincial governments announced this week that an expert panel, led by former Nova Scotia chief justice Michael MacDonald, would review the massacre that left 22 people dead.

But Martha Paynter, founder of Women’s Wellness Within, a Halifax-based group that advocates for women’s reproductive justice, said that falls short of the transparent public inquiry that many people, including the victims’ families, are demanding.

“We need systemic and structural change to come from this, and a little review is just not going to cut it,” Paynter, one of the strike organizers, said in an interview.

The strike — which will last 22 minutes in honour of the 22 victims killed on April 18 and 19 — will begin at noon local time on Monday. Supporters of the public inquiry will be gathering at the city’s Victoria Park and people can also watch the event live on Facebook.

“This was a horror, an enormous trauma for the entire country, and we all should be truly enraged by the inadequate government response,” Paynter said.

READ MORE: Over three dozen senators demand ‘open, transparent’ inquiry into Nova Scotia shooting

The victims’ families, as well as women’s rights advocates, lawyers and federal senators from across Canada, have for months urged Halifax and Ottawa to launch a public probe into what happened during the shootings and why.

Many have criticized the review panel — made up of MacDonald, the former chief justice; former federal Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan, and Leanne Fitch, the former chief of police in Fredericton — because they say it does not have enough power and lacks transparency.

An online petition demanding a public inquiry had garnered over 10,000 signatures as of Saturday afternoon, while a Facebook group for Nova Scotians in favour of a public probe had over 9,000 members.

The federal and Nova Scotia governments have defended the format of the review, however, saying it was the best way to launch an investigation quickly.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil also said Friday that the panellists can ask his government for assistance should they need it.

“I made it very clear if they are at a point where they need more power, and need more support to be able to get to those answers, come to our government and we’ll respond to them,” McNeil told reporters.

But Jenny Wright, another co-organizer of Monday’s strike, said a public inquiry is the best way to get to the bottom of what happened — and prevent future massacres.

“We must have an inquest that looks at the specific links between misogyny and violence against women and mass killings that we are seeing here at home and across Canada that we are not acknowledging,” Wright, a feminist activist who lives in both Halifax and St. John’s said in an interview.

She said the gunman in Nova Scotia had a history of violence against women, which can be a predictor of mass killings.

She pointed to the Toronto van attack in April 2018 and to the 14 female engineering students who were killed at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989 as other examples of massacres in which misogyny played a role.

“We need to have an inquiry so that people … can be compelled to speak the truth about that night so that we’re finally able to unpack what happened (and) have transparency and accountability,” said Wright.

“In the end, we are hopeful that if our voices are strong enough then the governments will overturn their decision.”

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Mass shootingsNova ScotiaShooting

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hamhuis hangs up his skates

The Nashville Predators defenceman and Smithereen spent 16 years in the NHL

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

Cyclist dead following Hwy 16 collision with pickup

The cyclist was a 41-year-old man from Smithers

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

External community engagement process launched to help implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title

Smithers contractor refurbishes sailboat for Northwest Passage adventure

Ron Smith, who has been working on the “Obsession” for 12 years, will put her in the water this week

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

B.C.’s fuel suppliers to publish prices to provide accountability: minister

Bruce Ralston says move will ensure industry publicly accountable for unexplained prices increases

Roots and Blues online festival live tonight on Black Press Media

Tune in to Black Press Media to watch the festival live Aug. 14, 15 and 16

Man suffers serious injuries in bear attack in remote area near Lillooet

It was deemed a defensive attack, no efforts were made to locate the animal

Missed rent payments because of COVID-19? You have until July 2021 to pay up

Each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due

U.S.-Canada pandemic border restrictions extended into September

‘We will continue to keep our communities safe,’ says Public Safety Minister Bill Blair

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Most Read