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

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Grade 7 Trafalgar students show off posters they put up around downtown Nelson with information about residential schools. Photo: Tyler Harper
Trafalgar class puts up residential school history posters downtown

The Grade 7 students made their own websites and QR codes

The Capitol Theatre has been transformed into a courtroom for the trial of Const. Jason Tait that started on Sept. 28 and continues. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Defence begins presenting evidence in Nelson jury trial of RCMP officer

Const. Jason Tait is charged with manslaughter after a Castlegar incident in 2015

The West Kootenay Cycling Coalition says GoByBike Week was a success. Photo: Submitted
A round of applause for GoByBike Week supporters

Nearly 200 cyclists participated

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read