A Nova Scotia woman who died in a mass shooting was remembered at her funeral for her contagious energy and love of her children on Sunday, as Canada marked one week since the deadly shooting with memorials and tributes for the victims.
Lisa McCully was one of 22 people killed when a shooter dressed in an RCMP uniform went on a 12-hour rampage across northern Nova Scotia that began last Saturday night.
On Sunday, a framed photo of the 49-year-old mother of two could be seen on a table next to a grey urn and bouquets of flowers during her funeral in Truro, N.S. The service was also available online for those who could not attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her sister, Jenny Kierstead, remembered McCully as a “proverbial entertainer” who loved singing, dancing, and children — both her own and those she taught as an elementary school teacher.
“Lisa beautifully melded her love of outdoor education with her love of parenting, teaching her children physics on the bike ramp, oceanography on the shoreline, and of course, music by campfire,” Kierstead said at the funeral.
Earlier in the service, Rev. Glenn MacLean praised McCully for her work in the church, her zest for adventure, and her role as a teacher.
While he said the whole community had been shaken by “a senseless, sick act of violence,” he told the service that the savage attacks ”do not win out” over the acts of kindness and courage witnessed in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“Just look at the outpouring of love and concern from across our province and across the land, and the courage of all the people who are willing to help out and try to reach out as best they could,” he said, praising police, first responders, and 911 operators.
Meanwhile, tributes and memorials continued to pour in on Sunday for all the victims.
While distancing restrictions due to COVID-19 means that some families will have to mourn privately or wait until the coronavirus is contained to hold services, Canadians have found ways to honour the victims.
Across the country, people have been piling flowers by roadside memorials, lighting candles, posting heartfelt musical tributes online, or donning red in honour of slain RCMP officer Cst. Heidi Stevenson.
On Saturday, hundreds of vehicles formed a motorcade in Wyses Corner, N.S. in honour of 36-year-old Joey Webber, who was shot by the gunman while running a family errand.
Law enforcement and first responders across the country have held small ceremonies in honour of Stevenson, who was described Saturday as a “hero” by her union for her actions in trying to stop the gunman.
Angela Gevaudan, the wife of an RCMP officer killed by a gunman in Moncton, N.B., nearly six years ago, said the first responders on the scene will need time and counselling to come to grips with the emotions of the last week.
The former 911 dispatcher said with 16 crime scenes and so many victims, everyone will still be in shock.
She said first responders learn to put their emotions aside in order to do the job at hand.
“Because the focus is only on the external and what needs to be done, and there is very little room for your normal human feelings and reactions to something like this that happened in Nova Scotia,” she said on Sunday.
“You keep setting them aside, and setting them aside. You can get to a point where you don’t know where to start any more in trying to sort out what impacted you and how to make sense of it and come to terms with it.”
Gevaudan’s husband, RCMP Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, was killed along with constables Doug Larche and Dave Ross when a gunman went hunting police officers in a residential neighbourhood on June 4, 2014. Two other officers were wounded.
Gevaudan said she had to learn to make room for her emotions by taking part in different counselling programs, including one provided by Wounded Warriors Canada.
That group has launched a fund to assist first responders in Nova Scotia. By mid-day Sunday, about $38,000 had been raised.
While COVID-19 prevents a regimental funeral right now for Const. Stevenson, Gevaudan said the outpouring of support from the public will be appreciated by all the families.
— With files from Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press