A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central Nova Scotia to honour the 22 people killed by a lone gunman one year ago.

The closed service at Truro’s First United Church, which will be livestreamed on Facebook and local media, is slated to begin at 3 p.m. local time.

A provincewide moment of silence will be observed as the ceremony begins, and the service is expected to feature several musical performances and speeches from spiritual teachers and political leaders.

Premier Iain Rankin is scheduled to attend the event, organized by the Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society.

The anniversary was also expected to be marked by a peaceful march to the RCMP detachment in nearby Bible Hill, where some of the victim’s relatives planned to express their dismay with the Mounties’ response to one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.

The RCMP’s commanding officer in Nova Scotia, Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, issued a statement saying the police force would observe a moment of silence at 2 p.m. on Monday to honour the victims, including RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, who was fatally shot by the gunman.

Bergerman said the “devastating incidents of April 2020 have had “profound and far-reaching effects.

“The gunman’s actions were directed at innocent people, and no one has felt this more than the families of the victims. Their lives have changed in ways that most will never understand, and our hearts are with them during this difficult time,” the statement red.

Bergerman said well over 100 RCMP employees were part of the response on April 18 and 19 of last year and hundreds more have been involved in the subsequent investigation.

“We understand people have questions and want to know as much as possible about the incidents,” Bergerman said. “It is our hope that the Mass Casualty Commission will provide a full accounting of what happened for the families of the victims and the public.”

Meanwhile, the flags at the provincial legislature in Halifax were lowered to half-mast at sunrise and will remain that way until sunset on Monday.

As well, a series of memorial walks and a fundraising run were to be held in and around Truro today, with money raised going towards a permanent memorial.

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