Skip to content

‘Somebody is listening:’ Families of N.S. shooting victims hope final report brings change

Charlene Bagley, who lost her father, Tom Bagley, agreed that she was happy with such a wide-ranging report that “looks really good on paper.”The event began with a montage of photos of the 22 people who died in the tragedy followed by a moment of silence.”When implemented, it will establish that those wonderful, dear lives that were taken on April 18 and 19 would not have been taken in vain. Those lives cannot have been taken in vain — that cannot happen.”But she said it was good to see the level of detail about how RCMP actions put people in danger, and structures like provincial mental-health services failed families.When asked what her mom would think, Dobson said: “I hope that she would be proud, I really do. And I know that she would have done the exact same thing for me or any one of my siblings.”Source: cbc.caThe report suggests federal and Nova Scotia governments should fund the body, consult with communities on what should be prioritized, provide public updates on progress every three months, and put out an annual report.The past few months since the inquiry’s public proceedings ended have been the start of her own “healing process, finally” Bagley said, touching the purple necklace that holds the remains of her dad.If you are experiencing distress or overwhelming emotions at any time, you can call the Nova Scotia Provincial Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-888-429-8167. The Nova Scotia Provincial Crisis Service can also provide contacts for other crisis services that are available if you live outside Nova Scotia. MacDonald led his remarks by thanking the families of those killed in the rampage for their “unwavering courage and commitment.” The victims, who included a pregnant woman, were killed by a gunman posing as an RCMP officer over 13 hours.

A collage of 22 people shows the faces of the people who died in four rows
Twenty-two people died on April 18 and 19, 2020. Top row from left: Gina Goulet, Dawn Gulenchyn, Jolene Oliver, Frank Gulenchyn, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins. Second row: John Zahl, Lisa McCully, Joey Webber, Heidi Stevenson, Heather O’Brien and Jamie Blair. Third row from top: Kristen Beaton, Lillian Campbell, Joanne Thomas, Peter Bond, Tom Bagley and Greg Blair. Bottom row: Emily Tuck, Joy Bond, Corrie Ellison and Aaron Tuck. (CBC)

The Kids Help Phone is a national helpline that provides confidential support at 1-800-668-6868 or Text CONNECT to 686868. The report sets out findings on how and why things happened as they did across those two days, and outlines recommendations for police, governments and individuals.Fitch was clear that a culture change in the RCMP is not a case of “we think that it can change,” but “it must change,” especially given that many reports in the past have called for that transformation. “He wouldn’t want us hurting,” Bagley said. “He’d want us happy so I’ll try to do that for him, but in the meantime I’m just not giving up — and he knows that.

A white woman with glasses and a purple necklace and glasses stands in a hotel ballroom
Charlene Bagley, daughter of victim Tom Bagley, says she is glad that the report’s release means a chapter has closed, but will now push for recommendations to be implemented. (CBC)

“This isn’t just something that is directed at the RCMP in Canada, this is policing in Canada. It’s time to rethink the roles and responsibilities, and how to share the responsibility of community safety and well-being with everyone,” Fitch told reporters.Scott MacLeod, brother of victim Sean MacLeod, said he would be interested in being one of the family members assigned to sit on the “accountability body” eventually set up to ensure that the recommendations are carried out.”Future acts of violence are preventable if we have the will to do what is necessary.”But some say they were “pleasantly surprised” Thursday to see strong criticism of the RCMP and clear recommendations for how to make Canadians safer.Duration 0:58

somebody is listening families of n s shooting victims hope final report brings change 2

‘There need to be changes’: Trudeau reacts to Mass Casualty Commission Report in Nova Scotia

8 hours ago

“It was really nice to actually see somebody is listening.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Truro, N.S. for the presentation of the report on the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. He says he will take time to absorb the details of the report and implement its recommendations.

“If it makes a positive change that’s nationwide, it’ll be appreciated I know by families,” MacLeod said. “Whether everything gets done that says it’s going to be done moving forward, we will see,” Bagley said.”We were pleasantly surprised,” said Darcy Dobson, daughter of victim Heather O’Brien. “We didn’t expect them to crack down so hard on the policing in this province as hard as they did. So, that was great, actually, because there definitely needs to be some change in policing.”If there’s a body to hold them accountable … then at least there’s that positive side of it. There’s no sneaking away from anything,” MacLeod said.

One man and two women sit at a table in front of a crowd.
From left, commissioners Leanne Fitch, Michael MacDonald, chair, and Kim Stanton deliver the final report of the Mass Casualty Commission inquiry into the mass murders in rural Nova Scotia. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

The commissioners also thanked key politicians including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, and federal Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino, for attending the release of the report in person.”It is so important that you are here. Our recommendations call for transformative change, they call for collaboration, they call for leadership,” MacDonald said.For months, the families of the victims of Nova Scotia’s mass shooting in 2020 wondered if an inquiry would deliver answers.”We set up a system for each witness, tailor-made, that got the best information from them,” he said. “I believe our report dispels any criticism in that regard.”We do not shy away from declaring hard truths and accountability. We identify them precisely so we can learn from them and do better,” MacDonald said.”This is a blueprint that can make Canada a world leader when it comes to community safety,” MacDonald said.

A man in a grey hat leans forward in his seat, surrounded by slightly blurry faces in a crowd
Friends, family and supporters of the victims of the mass killings in rural Nova Scotia in 2020 attend Thursday’s release of the Mass Casualty Commission report. (The Canadian Press)

“They call for you to champion these recommendations so that our communities in Nova Scotia and Canada will be safer.”Dobson said the RCMP treated families poorly both during and after the mass shootings, leaving them to “jump through hoops” to get any information, and next of kin notifications were often done poorly.  Michael MacDonald, chair of the Mass Casualty Commission, and fellow commissioners Leanne Fitch and Kim Stanton spoke about the need for action now after the release of their 3,000-page report.While MacLeod said nothing will bring his brother back, but if changes are made then “these people didn’t lose their lives for nothing.”Bagley said she thinks her father would be glad that this chapter is now over, so she and her mother can move on.”My hope is that they will follow through. I’m going to be holding them accountable, so let’s hope.””I challenge anyone to suggest that we did not get all the information. We did.”Those recommendations include calls for major changes to RCMP oversight, processes and culture; a process to rethink the structure of policing in Nova Scotia; a national review of public alerting; greater focus on addressing intimate partner violence; and a much expanded collaborative model to ensure community safety.Dobson said she still thinks the inquiry itself was a “flawed” process that retraumatized the families, while certain RCMP officers were protected by not having to answer direct questions from family lawyers. She said that’s why many people had “low expectations” for the report.

Speaking with the media after his remarks, MacDonald defended the commission’s decision to limit direct questions from family lawyers for key witnesses like RCMP officers and the gunman’s partner, Lisa Banfield.Additional supports for across Canada are available at www.wellnesstogether.caThe main recommendations that stuck out to her were structural changes with the RCMP, and a review of the national Alert Ready system.The Mass Casualty Commission released its lengthy report with 130 recommendations to a packed room in Truro, N.S.


If you or someone you know is struggling in any way, you can call 211 or visit 211 offers help 24 hours a day in more than one hundred languages and will be able to connect you directly to the right services for your needs.