The danger has subsided, but the country remains in a state of shock, the emotions still raw.
The worst mass shooting in Canadian history took place last weekend in Nova Scotia, when a lone gunman went on a 12-hour shooting rampage across the province before being killed in a confrontation with police.
On Tuesday, police updated the death toll to 22, with the newly-identified victims including a woman who was out for a walk at the time, a care aide, and a volunteer firefighter. Sixteen separate crime scenes are being examined across the province, a grim reminder of the horrific and senseless terror that unfolded.
All of Canada is in mourning, especially those in Nova Scotia. This unspeakable horror hit close to home for the entire HFX Wanderers FC organization, including goalkeeper Christian Oxner, one of two Nova Scotia natives on the team.
Oxner is the epitome of the “hometown kid.” The 23-year-old grew up in Clayton Park, a suburb of Halifax, and spent a lot of his childhood with his buddies playing soccer on the fields of the downtown campus of Dalhousie University. He enjoyed a five-year stint with the Saint Mary’s Huskies, while simultaneously helping Western Halifax FC win three provincial championships, before being selected by HFX Wanderers in the 2018 CPL-U SPORTS Draft.
Oxner was at home when he received a phone call from his girlfriend about the first shooting on Saturday night, and later he heard more details from his brothers as the rampage continued. Eventually, the series of horrific shootings ended on Sunday morning, leaving Oxner and other local residents to reflect upon the terror spree that ripped through their province.
“I was shocked. You hear about these types of things happening all the time down in the United States, and it’s weird because everything you read about these things down there, you become numb about it all. But when it happens so close to home, it gives you an uneasy feeling in your stomach,” Oxner told CanPL.ca.
As a native of Nova Scotia, Oxner has been deeply affected by what took place, and is still trying to come to terms with what occurred.
“It’s something you don’t think is going to happen so close to home, and when it does it takes you by surprise and it scares you. It’s a sad and dark time here. But the province has come together, and it shows you the kind of people and the spirit we have here, to show the support for everyone involved,” Oxner stated.
He later added: “It’s a shock to the system. We’re going to have to move forward as a province and city, but we can do it.”
Indeed, the healing process has already begun, with the #NovaScotiaStrong hashtag trending on social media, and people across the province reaching out to each other to lend support.
“With the lockdown due to COVID-19, you can’t go out that much. But I’ve see all the posts on social media that people are sharing, all the Nova Scotia stay strong posts … stuff like that is pretty amazing. It shows the kind of people we have living here, who are so supportive in these dark times and willing to be there for others who need them,” Oxner offered.
That being said, Oxner admits that it won’t be easy for Halifax and the province to put this tragedy behind them.
“I can’t really see things going back to normal anytime soon because nothing of this magnitude has ever happened like this here before. It’s going to be a tough time for everybody and I think we’ll eventually get there, but it’s going to take time. For now, it’s about being there for each other, being supportive and being together so we can get through this,” Oxner said.
As one of the biggest sports teams in Atlantic Canada, HFX Wanderers have a major role to play in helping the province heal, according to Oxner.
“The club would be able to do a lot more if we were playing because it would help people to take their mind off what happened,” Oxner said.