STRAIT AREA: As people around the province, the country, and the world try to come to grips with what happened on April 18 and 19 in central Nova Scotia, so too have residents of the Strait area.
Cst. Heidi Stevenson was killed in the line of duty on April 19 in Shubenacadie while attending the scene of an active shooter. She leaves behind a husband and two children.
Born in 1971 to parents Avon Brophy and David Burkholder, Cst. Stevenson grew up in Antigonish.
“Known to be a smart, independent girl who always stood up for herself, Heidi was an active member of the local 4-H club and an avid reader and baker in her youth,” her obituary reads.
The future mountie graduated from Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional High School in Antigonish in 1989 and according to her yearbook, was known for her “unmistakable laugh.”
Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron said April 18 and 19 will go down in history as two of the most devastating days Nova Scotia has ever endured.
“Many innocent victims and families having to grieve the loss of their loved ones is certainly not fair,” McCarron said in a statement. “We are thinking of the first responders who had to witness what took place at each crime scene and worked diligently to ensure the safety of Nova Scotians. Special thanks to the RCMP, Halifax Regional Police and all of those involved in the take down of the assailant to put an end to the rampage. The RCMP did a remarkable job helping to keep Nova Scotians safe.”
In particular, the warden shared words for the family and Cst. Stevenson’s colleagues, noting that “Constable Heidi Stevenson formally called Antigonish home and we grieve along with you.”
“Take time to grieve, know that you are not alone and all of Nova Scotia is wrapping our arms around you,” McCarron said. “Take care of each other, we are stronger together.”
After word of the mass murder travelled around the region, municipal councils, RCMP detachments, provincial and private offices, post offices, residents, and businesses lowered their flags out of respect for the 22 victims of Canada’s worst mass shooting.
“As we reflect on today’s news, we all hold our collective breaths as we acknowledge this incredible tragedy; because, these kinds of crimes just do not happen in our province,” Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said in a Facebook post on April 19. “So much loss. With shock and deep sadness – we offer our solace and prayers to those families forever changed. If there was ever a truer thing about Nova Scotia, it is that we ‘come together’ during times of tragedy. We support one another.”
The mayor said the Town of Port Hawkesbury joins all other communities across Nova Scotia in mourning those lost.
“In the beautiful fading glow of today’s sunset, we hope to lessen the burden of this incredible loss by showing our support from shore, to shore, to shore,” Chisholm-Beaton added.
In days following the shootings and fires, residents around the Strait area participated in vigils, sent on-line condolences, reached out to friends and family in the affected areas, and volunteer fire departments participated by running the lights on their vehicles, all in tribute to the victims, families and communities impacted by this tragedy.
Strait area RCMP detachments also participated in the April 24 tribute to Cst. Stevenson.