Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

The mass shooting in Maine has brought back memories of the April 2020 tragedy in Nova Scotia for many people in the province.

For Mallory Colpitts, the news south of the border hit hard, even from almost 1,000 kilometres away.

“It is important for them to know that I am thinking about them,” she said.

More than three years ago, Colpitts survived the Nova Scotia mass shooting. She hid in her Portapique home for hours while a gunman killed 22 people.

The trauma of that experience continues to affect her today.

“The thing about these ordeals is there is really no survival guide to surviving,” she said. “And there were some things, in my experience, that were really helpful that I had done, and things that I wish I had done differently [in] the aftermath.”

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She says wants to share advice with those reeling from the killings in Maine this past week which left 18 people dead.

“There’s isn’t a correct journey for everyone. A message I would hope to get across is that for me, I had to create strong boundaries because of the natural inquisition humans have for wanting to understand what happened,” Colpitts said.

“The individuals impacted — families, witnesses and other survivors, likely may need some time to decompress, because this is so fresh.”

Nova Scotians like her are all too familiar with the toll such a tragedy can take, even years later.

“And survivor’s guilt is very real,” she added.


Alison Strachan at her home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

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Other Maritimers have also been affected by the events in Maine.

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New Yorker turned Maritimer Alison Strachan couldn’t sleep after hearing the news about the shooting Wednesday evening because she has family living about a half hour from where it happened.

“Then I was watching a fire department Twitter, and they were calling in medivacs to take people to the Boston hospital, so you knew it was big at that point,” she said.

Her two sisters and three nieces spent several days sheltering in place as police searched for the suspect in their neighborhoods.

Strachan has driven through Lewiston on visits to her family, and says the small towns and backroads of the area are very similar to those the Nova Scotia killer in 2020 passed through to evade authorities until he was shot dead by police 13 hours after his killing spree began.

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“I started to feel very much the same emotions as I felt when Portapique happened, and thinking about the days ahead for my family, because I know this is only the beginning,” said Strachan. “We re-lived many of the victims lives for years, and I guess it just made me feel very sad for what they will be going through. It’s not easy.”

Her thoughts are now with her family, and all residents Maine affected by this tragedy.

“I wanted to send a message to all of Maine, that we’re all with you, because it’s something that you don’t easily recover from,” she said.

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Nova Scotia Health, which realizes the ripple effect the incident in Maine could have, is reminding people in the province to reach out for mental health support if they need it.

Colpitts says one of the best things she did after her experience was seek professional mental health assistance immediately.

“Everyone needs support through that,” she stressed.

She said she is also urging authorities to include survivors and witnesses when providing help.

“If I were to echo anything from my experience, it would be to not forget those forgotten individuals.”

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