This forum is here for feminist news and articles about the horrific mass murders in Nova Scotia, April 18 & 19, 2020.

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Actions of human evil – On the Nova Scotia mass shooter and others like him
By Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald - June 18, 2020

CBC reporter Ian Hanomansing interviewed Brenda Lucki, Commissioner of the RCMP, about the mass shootings of April 18 and 19 and the gunman’s ‘initial motivation’. When reviewing emails circulating among police officers, Ian said, one officer described the shooter’s rampage as “pure evil”. He asked Commissioner Lucki, “[D]oes that line up with what you know about what happened here?” Responding, she said the mass shootings were “… hard to describe… [with] no words to describe it.” We disagree.

There are words to describe this shooter’s behaviours. Descriptive words we all know. This shooter’s rampage is captured in words such as: heinous, atrocious, cruel, and evil. Words easily found in dictionaries. We can even add more words to this list to describe this mass shooter’s behaviours. Words such as revolting, horrific, monstrous, brutal, merciless, ruthless, and vicious.

Ian’s question about whether the mass shooter’s behaviours could be described as evil must not be dismissed. His question takes us back 27 years to 1993. This was the year we came face-to-face with the knowledge that there are those who live, work, and play among us, even in Nova Scotia, whose behaviours must be described as actions of human evil.

Our experience began suddenly. It became and has remained life-altering. When women began telling us graphic details of the torture victimizations they survived, perpetrated by parent(s), other family member(s), a spouse, and like-minded individuals and groups from politicians to professionals, from fishers to farmers. The women used the word “evil” to describe these torturers’ acts. Consequently, for 27 years we’ve processed knowing and explaining these perpetrators behaviours are evil, heinous, atrocious, cruel, revolting, horrific, monstrous, brutal, merciless, ruthless, and vicious.
This shooter’s behaviours

In 2014 we joined 40,000 other individuals in the first forensic research project involving general public participation. The focus was to establish a more informed, fair, and evidence-based method of making legal decisions about the worst-of-the-worst elements of a crime. The outcome was the development of the Depravity Standard. This Standard does not define who is depraved; instead, it categorizes the degree of depravation perpetrated by categorizing the criminal’s (1) intent, (2) actions, (3) attitudes, and (4) choice of the person(s) victimized. Twenty-five specific elements are listed under these four categories. We will apply these four categories and the 25 elements of the Depravity Standard to what has been publicly reported about the shooter’s behaviours.

Starting with intent, we raise 6 out of the 9 elements listed under intent. Elements that apply to the shooter’s intent to emotionally traumatize, humiliate, terrorize, and victimize others. Elements raise questions if prior to the shootings he “showed off” and in ways that intentionally terrorized others. Other elements ask whether his depravity progressively increased and whether his prior behaviours provided excitement for him. Finally, did he maximize the destruction of those he victimized?

Answering these questions means listening to Brenda Forbes’ fears that she experienced the shooter as an extremely dangerous man, so serious that she and her husband left Nova Scotia. The shooter stalked Brenda at home terrorizing her. The shooter inflicted serial assaults and strangled his partner, ignoring the lethality of strangulation and the terrorizing impacts of such victimizations. A witness to the strangulation refused to validate this violent ordeal saying, “No way….He’ll kill me.” A threat heightened by the shooter’s possession of guns.

As to prior behaviours, maybe the shooter thought role playing by dressing up as a police officer was showing-off.

And a woman has told us that when she went to have her dentures fitted by the shooter in his professional role as a denturist, he pressed his crotch into her hand all the while staring at her, continuing to talk to her as if nothing was going on. Did inflicting this sexualized violation excite him? It’s a fair question to think so.

The shooter’s intent was destruction. He committed the worst mass shootings in Canadian history, as well as intentionally setting on fire some of the homes of those he killed.

Actions: All eight elements listed under this category apply to this shooter. For instance, one element asks whether a criminal—whether this shooter disregarded the consequences of his violent acts. The answer is absolutely. There is no indication of restraints to his serial violent actions perpetrated on his female partner, on those he shot and killed, and on the families of those he killed.

Were the shooter’s actions inconsistent with the social context, for instance, within his community of neighbours? In response to this element it is necessary to think back to his stalking of Brenda Forbes because she supported his partner. Did he have excessive responses to trivial events? Indeed he did. Following an argument with his partner he refused her entrance into the house to get her belongings. A male friend went to the house to get her “stuff” and the shooter refused him entry threateningly saying, “I’ve got some guns in the house.” There was the episode where he removed the back tires off his partner’s car to restrict her ability to exit following another distressful argument with him.

Applying other elements means asking whether his actions involved unrelenting physical and emotional forms of victimizations? Serial assaults of his partner are unrelenting forms of physical and emotional victimizations. Were there unrelenting physical and emotional victimizations inflicted on the night of the rampage? Did confining, tying up of his partner, smashing her cellphone, and having guns in the car increase her terror and suffering prior to the shooter’s mass rampage? Without a doubt. Terrorized she escaped and hid in the woods overnight. Did his actions inflict terror and helplessness on others? Yes, considering that community residents were terrified and some remain too terrified to return to the community.

The element of whether the shooter’s actions inflicted exceptional degrees of physical harm or damage is answered by listing his infliction of 13 femicides, 9 homicides, wounding another, wounding dogs, burning homes, shooting and wounding a RCMP officer, shooting and killing RCMP officer Heidi Stevenson, taking her weapon and ammunition, then killing a man who stopped to help and stealing his SUV, and killing again and stealing another vehicle. And did he carry out his crimes close to those he victimized? Totally, in that prior to his mass shootings he began by assaulting and terrifying his partner, then he began killing his community neighbours.

Attitudes: The shooter’s attitudes were illustrated in all of the five elements listed. Such as applying the elements of indifference and disrespect regarding the harmful impacts his victimizing actions had on his female partner. As previously noted, he did not care whether witnesses were present when he had his female partner on the ground beating and strangling her. And he began stalking Brenda for speaking out against his harmful impacts of assaulting his partner. Did he have pleasure regarding these actions? The serial violence against his female partner and his stalking of Brenda Forbes are attitudinal expressions of misogyny and patriarchal male domination and oppression of women. Such attitudes permit a criminal—permitted the shooter to project responsibility onto the women he victimized and feel entitled to do so.

Did the shooter falsely implicate others in wrongdoing? For instance, the shooter refused to remove his name from the sale of a property that his uncle claimed was his. A court ruled in favor of the uncle.

Choice of victim(s): There are three elements under this category. Firstly, that a perpetrator victimizes a person they were in relationship with; secondly, the perpetrator was prejudiced against the victimized person, and thirdly, the perpetrator rendered the victimized person vulnerable and helpless. This shooter was a serial assaulter of his partner. Prior to his mass shootings he immobilized his partner by tying her up, attempting to render her vulnerable and helpless. Misogyny is a form of prejudice against women—against his female partner, against Brenda Forbes, and his sexualized violation of the woman while he was fitting her dentures.

Describing who he is, for instance an ‘injustice collector’ versus placing attention on his behaviours is critically unwarranted. Because this diverts attention away from the years of abusive behavioural warning signs and notifications that he was a dangerous man living in Nova Scotian communities. It invisibilizes his serial life-threatening misogynistic-based behaviours and his eventual rampages—which were not unpredictable. For us, the focus must concentrate on this shooter’s criminal depravity. He was a dangerous man whose behaviours can be described as actions of human evil.
Feminist analysis: Misogyny, femicide, and male violence against women

A public independent inquiry or review in Nova Scotia must analyse systemic misogyny within the RCMP. Nova Scotia RCMP said they were unaware that misogyny was involved which, to us, suggests a pattern of disregarding reports of male violence against women, and a lack of knowledge about the degrees of violent lethality male violence inflicts against women. In previous articles we shared women’s stories—Jolene, Jane, Lynn, and Sara—of experiencing RCMP officer’s intimidation, ignoring reports of violent victimizations, or receiving no support.

Brenda Thompson explains her experience of supporting a woman who was victimized by her boyfriend. She said, “It was in February, with a snow storm brewing. The RCMP refused to take the abuser out of the house even though the house was in her name….They told her to let him stay…for the night until the storm was over but, ‘Don’t call us unless there is blood.’ It was utterly shocking that they would say that….I stayed with the woman for a few hours while the abuser raged and threatened. I left my cell phone with the woman in case of an emergency…[I] went to her house first thing in the morning…scared to death of what I would find. But he had left.”

A transformative public independent federal-provincial inquiry or review must occur. It needs to acknowledge there are those who live, work, play, and volunteer among us who intentionally commit acts of human evil within relationships and within communities. Healing is helped when having the language to explain one’s victimization, to be truly heard and understood. From this moment on, if it is comforting to describe the depravity of this mass shooter’s crimes using the word “evil” this is acceptable truth-telling—as is using any of the words listed on the side panel.

We call on women to speak out about male violence they have experienced. There must be no holding back on demanding a public independent inquiry or review. Assessing how the RCMP and communities respond to complaints of male violence against women and to address femicide prevention, and systemic misogynistic sexism.

We must not be stuck as Commissioner Lucki was when saying there were “no words to describe it.” We disagree—there are many words to describe the shooter’s actions—evil is one such word!

See also;’ Petition: End femicide and misogyny in Nova Scotia. An inquiry now!

Jeanne Sarson, MEd, BScN and
Linda MacDonald, MEd, BN
Co-founders Persons Against Non-State Torture (NST)
Human Rights Defenders
361 Prince Street, Truro, NS, Canada B2N 1E4
P: 1.902.895.6659 | C: 1.902.956.2117 |

Nova Scotia MPs break ranks, call for a public inquiry in mass shooting
By Alexander Quon Global News, July 28, 2020

Feminists advocates hosted a 22-minute rally in Halifax on Monday, calling on government to reverse its decision to hold a review instead of a public inquiry into N.S. shooting. Elizabeth McSheffrey has the story.

At least two Nova Scotia MPs have broken ranks with their colleagues and are calling for a public inquiry into the mass shooting in April that resulted in the deaths of 22 people.

In a statement published on social media on Tuesday, Darren Fisher, MP for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, says he has heard the outrage voiced by the public on the decision by federal and provincial governments to hold an independent review of the incident.

“I recognize that many Nova Scotians, including the victims’ families, are concerned about the authority and scope of this review, versus a public inquiry,” Fisher wrote in a statement.

“I believe the decision to move forwards with a joint-review was made with good intentions; however, the gravity of this tragedy demands a greater response.”

Fisher joins Lenore Zann, MP for Cumberland-Colchester, who told CBC on Monday that she has repeatedly requested a public inquiry with the Prime Ministers Office.

Zann, whose constituency is where much of the shooting occurred, said she was not consulted by the government before the review was announced.

Both Zann and Fisher were among the 10 Nova Scotia MPS who had signed a letter on the day that the review was announced. That letter said they welcomed the announcement of the joint review.

Monday saw protests against review

The decision from Fisher comes a day after a pair of protests, and even more disturbing information about the gunman, was released as part of a battle in court by a media consortium.

On Monday, the families of those who were killed, as well as their supporters, rallied in Bridgewater, N.S., at the constituency office of provincial Justice Minister Mark Furey, voicing their frustrations at the review.

“It’s the easy way out, I think, to avoid answering a lot of questions that we have,” said Tom Webber, the father of Joey Webber, who was killed by the gunman while running an errand the morning of April 19.

Another protest in Halifax on Monday saw feminist community activists and advocates speak to more than 100 people at Victoria Park.

Bridgewater crowd calls for N.S. shooting public inquiry instead of review

They say the review is destined to work behind closed doors.

Legal experts, opposition parties and family members have all expressed concern that the review panel will, unlike a public inquiry, not have the power to subpoena documents or to compel testimony.

Documents allege gunman had history of drug trafficking

Also on Monday, parts of search warrant applications were unsealed as a result of efforts from media organizations, including Global News, to have previously redacted portions of the police documents made public.

The documents contain statements, which have not been tested in court, that were filed after the shooting by investigators as they sought to collect evidence on the gunman’s properties in Portapique, N.S., and Dartmouth, N.S., as well as vehicles and electronic devices.

The allegations include that the gunman trafficked drugs and firearms from the United States.

Following the shooting, one unidentified witness told police that they were aware that “[Gabriel Wortman] had smuggled guns and drugs from Maine for years and had a stockpile of guns,” the documents say.

According to the documents, a witness told Halifax Regional Police:

“Gabriel Wortman smuggled drugs from Maine and had a bag of 10,000 oxy-contin pills and 15,000 dilaudid from a reservation in New Brunswick.”

The same witness, who first met the gunman in 2011, also told police that the gunman “builds fires and burns bodies, is a sexual predator, and supplies drugs in Portapique and Economy, Nova Scotia.”

Other allegations from witnesses following the 13-hour rampage on April 18 and 19, included that the gunman had various secret rooms and false walls located on his properties.

One witness told police that the gunman kept a “high powered rifle” in a “hidden compartment in the garage” according to documents.
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“’People talked about there being ‘secret hiding spots’ on his properties’ and ‘there were areas that contain a false wall,’” the documents say.

What is a feminist analysis and why do we need one as part of the Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry?

We make the following disclosures before answering the two questions posed in the title. 

Our ethical, professional, and personal writing about the misogynistic roots of male violence against women and girls is influenced, first and foremost, by our different yet similar childhoods of being born to very violent fathers who battered our mothers.

When we were children domestic violence was not a specific crime. Rarely did bystanders appear to care or try to intervene in such so-called “family matters.” Such social dismissals were painful. Today, decades later, although laws have been achieved, dismissal of misogynistic attitudes that contributes to such violence remains, and as evidenced contributed to the mass femicides and homicides of April 2020. 

Our second disclosure is that I, Jeanne, experienced the sudden killing of my mother. A drunk driver killed her instantly. Our twin sons were just four. They never had the opportunity to experience a relationship with her as a loving grandmother. I was told the drunk driver had multiple DUIs and the next day appeared in a pub wearing a T-shirt saying “I’m a killer.” This was before MADD Canada became “a national network of victims/survivors and concerned citizens working to stop impaired driving and to support victims/survivors of this violent crime.” When my mother was killed drunk driving was socially dismissed as ‘macho’ or “how young men are.”

Involvement in MADD helps sooth pain and support healing. MADD has transformed social attitudes. Drunk driving is no longer okay behavior. Drunk or alcohol-impaired driving is a criminal offence and MADD worked at developing blood alcohol standards. Such social advocacy efforts can help cope with the pain of unjust losses.  

Why a feminist analysis as part of the Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry? 

Working to demand an independent public inquiry, although successful, these past few months of witnessing how hard the families so victimized have battled, has been painful. And this success is only a beginning of their search for truth-telling answers. 

Requesting a feminist analysis in the mandate of the inquiry is similar to the social, personal and community, caring MADD has offered since incorporating in Canada in 1989. Like MADD a feminist analysis seeks to prevent ongoing violent behaviors. This means no longer is it acceptable to normalize drunk driving—likewise, it is no longer acceptable to dismiss the misogynistic attitudes that contribute to male violence against women and children that are inflicted in all Nova Scotian and Canadian communities. MADD asked Canadians to change our attitudes, to view drunk driving as a violent crime that kills and causes much pain and suffering. A feminist analysis is asking Nova Scotians to be determined to tackle misogyny to prevent the continuation of all forms of male violence against women and girls—from assaults, serial assaults, torture, femicide, to mass killings that have a connection to spousal or intimate partner violence. 

A request for the written inclusion of a feminist analysis as shown in this diagram will not distract from the mandate of the provincial-federal inquiry. Instead, requesting the written inclusion of a feminist analysis directly delivers the opportunity to name misogyny as a social attitude or a hate crime. A social attitude that nurtures violent relationship and community crimes such as the most atrocious mass shooting that Nova Scotian families and communities just suffered. Nova Scotians must be prepared to realize misogynistic-based violent crimes will continue unless directly named and socially addressed as a provincial fact-of-life. 

A feminist analysis written into the inquiry mandate must also address the misogynistic culture within the RCMP. Questioning how misogynistic attitudes impact on RCMP and policing responses to reports of male violence against women throughout Nova Scotia is about prevention. Just like the MADD focus was caring about all Canadians, a feminist analysis cares about all women and girls. A feminist analysis cares about all Nova Scotians—to prevent misogynistic ongoing male violence against women and children that can lead to femicides and homicides and to the public mass murders a lone Nova Scotian misogynistic violent male inflicted in April. 

What is a feminist analysis?

The website of Public Safety Canada lists 12 terms of reference for the previously planned federal-provincial review of the mass shooting “event.” These 12 points predominately centered on: 

  1. The perpetrator and the many crimes he is accused of perpetrating, plus examining his relationships with police and other social/mental health care systems;
  2. The functioning of the RCMP in response to the perpetrator’s crimes, including relationships between and among not only the RCMP but with other policing agencies, RCMP organizational decision-making, policies, procedures, and training, examining access to firearms, disposal of police equipment, and the use of public communications such as the Alert Ready Program;
  3. Information and support provided to affected families including children, citizens, police personnel, and the affected community;
  4. Examining how recommendations from prior reviews have been implemented; this is vague but the assumption may refer to specific mass shooting reviews and policing functioning in response to such atrocities; and 
  5. “Contributing and contextual factors including the involvement of gender-based and intimate partner violence” in relation to the mass shooter’s crimes.

Without question there is the need to address the infliction of gender-based violence in reference to the atrocities of the mass killer’s behaviors. This, however, keeps the focus within the policing investigation. This means the root issue of misogyny and its connection to male violence of specifically naming and understanding femicide as a distinct crime is not undertaken. This is why we call for a feminist analysis to be written into the mandate of the review. Preventing acts of male violence against women and girls requires a cultural-behavioral shift, just as MADD required a cultural-behavioral shift. 

Both federal and provincial Ministers for the Status of Women Maryam Monsef and Kelly Regan are invisible in this mandate process. Their silence is most disturbing. The mandate of these federal and provincial departments is stated as combating violence against women and girls culturally and behaviorally and to achieve the human rights equality of women and girls in Canadian society.

Our expectation of the Ministers’ mandates was to advance addressing how many forms of male violence against women and girls exist in Canada’s culture, including in Nova Scotia. Women in this country pay taxes. Women dedicate hours of volunteer contributions to advance the human rights equality of women and girls including the right to life and security to be safe. As we just said, the Ministers’ non-involvement and silence is most disturbing.   

Prevention of violence in Nova Scotian families requires dealing with the misogynistic culture in Nova Scotia and in its institutions. It means dealing with the misogyny in the RCMP culture and that of other police services. It means examining how misogynistic attitudes influence police responses to reports of male violence against women. We have been told that male violence against women crimes is often treated as “a lesser crime,” yet in reality these are very violent and serious serial crimes.  

A request for the inclusion of a feminist analysis into the inquiry does not interfere with investigative mandates. Its focus is on prevention. Much like MADD, which focuses on educating Canadians that drunk driving is violence that must end because it kills and harms, a feminist analysis is similar. A feminist analysis names and educates about the destructive attitude of misogyny. A feminist attitude focuses on preventing male violence against women—preventing assaults, serial assaults, torture, femicide, and public mass shooting that most commonly begin with male violence against an intimate partner.  

Misogyny is systemic within mainstream Nova Scotia and Canadian culture and agencies. To prevent male violence against women awareness interventions about socialized and normalized human inequality of women and girls needs to be spoken out loud, just like Canadians talk about the weather. Talking freely and truthfully can transform the hidden impacts of misogyny into prevention thus contribute to efforts to end atrocities such as the mass killings of April. A feminist analysis necessitates caring about all of Nova Scotian and Canadian women and girls–if the serial assaults, torture, femicide, and mass shooting atrocities are to never happen again.

In addition, a commissioner who has feminist expertise, knowledge on misogyny, on male violence against women, and on femicide needs to be seriously considered. 

Nova Scotians and Canadians now have this choice. Like MADD worked to care, to prevent and reduce killing and injury, we now can take this violent mass shooting inquiry into the work of caring and prevention. We now have this choice. We can work to deconstruct misogynistic norms that kill and cause injury. Or else openly admit to accepting the ongoing harms, violence, and destruction misogynistic violence inflicted against women and girls. We have gained this option of seeking the inclusion of a feminist analysis in the mandate of the inquiry. What do Canadians, Nova Scotians, and federal-provincial leaders want to do is the question?

Be unsilenced

Voice the need for a feminist analysis to be written into the provincial-federal inquiry mandate. Call Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety, at 1-613-995-0284.  

Jeanne Sarson, MEd, BScN and
Linda MacDonald, MEd, BN
Co-founders Persons Against Non-State Torture (NST)
Human Rights Defenders

A couple pays their respects at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Premier Stephen McNeil says if panellists leading a review into Nova Scotia's recent mass shooting need more powers, he expects they will request them from his government. Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press

Activists will strike as public continue to call for a public inquiry into N.S. massacre

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

by Jillian Kestler-D'Amours, Jul 26, 2020, Canadian Press

RCMP were told gunman behind Nova Scotia mass shooting smuggled drugs and guns for years, warrant reveals

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.

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.”

Portapique memorial (Heloise Rodriguez-Qizilbash/CBC)

End Femicide and Misogyny in Nova Scotia. An Inquiry Now!
Eleanor Cowan started this petition to Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada/Premier ministre du Canada)

The mass murders in Nova Scotia were not “senseless.” They were ‘predictable.’

We, concerned about the well-being of women and girls in Nova Scotia,

1. Ask for a public, independent inquiry with a feminist analysis of the persistent pattern of Nova Scotian women beaten, burned, sexually assaulted, stalked, strangled, shot, stabbed, tortured, trafficked, murdered (femicide), disappeared, and dismembered.

2. Let the inquiry happen on Nova Scotian turf. This worst mass murder in Canadian history happened here!

3. Examine the misogyny within the Nova Scotia culture and within the RCMP policies and practices that ignore warning signals of male violence against women, femicide, and mass shootings.

4. Ask that this inquiry has a healing and caring framework for all children, women, and men who have been harmed by this mass killing.


Call for Public Inquiry into the Nova Scotia Massacre

Please join ROSE in the call for a public inquiry. Take action today by emailing your member of Parliament and the representatives below.

To the Honourable:
Premier MacNeil
MLA Mark Furey
MP Bill Blair
Maryam Monsef

Re: Call for feminist Public Inquiry into the Nova Scotia massacre of April 18 and 19, 2020

Dear Sirs and Madams, 

As the organizers of Remember Our Sisters Everywhere we are deeply concerned about turning the tide of violence against girls and women and creating a better world. 

We are writing to urge you today to support a call for an independent public Inquiry into the Nova Scotia massacre, one that strongly includes a feminist perspective. 

Our sisters in Nova Scotia, NS Feminists Fighting Femicide, have articulated what such an Inquiry could look like and the vital changes that could be brought about: 

“Femicide is a crime distinct from homicide; unless such a feminist analysis is included in an inquiry there will be no discussion about femicide.  Such an analysis is necessary to determine the changes needed in police practices; the early warning signs and red flags of male violence against women; the necessity to remove guns when there are threats of violence; the importance of pressing charges when there are indications of any of the many forms of male violence against women.  All forms are early indicators of potential femicide.”

“Such an inquiry could be a model for other provinces and other countries to start examining the multiple and interrelated elements of male violence against women.  It would contribute to promoting more safety, well being and freedom in women and girls’ lives.”

We ask you to do whatever you can to set into motion a Nova Scotia led Public Inquiry that could save the lives of so many innocent women and girls, men and boys, in the future.


Remember Our Sisters Everywhere

The good, the bad, the ugly, and the continuing need for a feminist analysis in the Nova Scotia mass shooting inquiry
By Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald, Nova Scotia Advocate, September 15, 2020

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – “The good” arrived Tuesday, July 28th, 2020. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair announced a federal-provincial inquiry into the worst mass shooting in Canadian history.

Prior to this announcement, he and Nova Scotia’s Minister of Justice Mark Furey had declared an independent review would be held—a review not wanted—that ‘no one’ asked for. For three months families grieving over the atrocious killing of family members rejected the announced review—they wanted a full and transparent public inquiry.

Not being politically heard the families took to public protesting. Supported by Nova Scotian feminists, women’s rights activists, Dalhousie University law professors, Canadian senators, Nova Scotian elected politicians, organizations and others wrote letters to Ministers Furey and Blair or swamped Minister Blair’s Ottawa office with messages calling for an inquiry. July 28th was when “the good” happened with Minister Blair’s announcement the inquiry would be held.

This transformed the July 29th planned peaceful protest by the families and supporters who gathered at the Halifax waterfront ferry terminal. Instead of protesting, families, followed by supporters, walked quietly to Province House and back to the waterfront. We respectfully listened, at a distance, as families shared their responses of having achieved their goal of demanding an inquiry with the press. Charlene Bagley said she hoped to “get answers…families need and that’s what I wanted.” Nick Beaton, whose pregnant wife Kristen was killed, reflected on the families’ win. He said, “It just proves the little man can have a voice…together we can conquer.”

The bad

“The bad” can be felt by thinking of the families whose lives are forever unjustly altered by the gunman. And respecting that on top of their grief were three months of fight, marches, and meeting the press to express demanding an inquiry into how this horrific mass shooting ordeal was handled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

However, the “bad” also began years before. Brenda Forbes, who had been a neighbor of the gunman, said that in 2013, seven years prior to the gunman’s April rampage, she had reported to the RCMP that the gunman was assaulting his female partner, had strangled her, and had illegal guns. Forbes also explained her efforts to warn community members that the killer was a violent and dangerous man had been dismissed.

Forbes became so fearful of the gunman when he began stalking her house, subsequently moving away from the gunman’s Portapique neighborhood, and eventually moving out of province to feel safe. The RCMP said they had no record of Brenda Forbes’ reports. “The bad” is: Did the RCMP dismiss the seriousness of Brenda’s reports?

The ugly

“The ugly” can be named misogyny—the hatred, objectification, and social inequality patriarchy places on female persons. Misogyny that nurtures male violence against women and girls and that can amount to assaults and torture and other evil behaviors such as this mass shooting.

“The ugly” is the misogyny this serial assaulter and gunman carried as he went raging through Nova Scotia communities for over 13 hours, killing 22 people—inflicting 13 femicides—the killing of female persons—and nine homicides—the killing of male persons.

According to RCMP and media reports the killer’s rampage began by assaulting and handcuffing his partner who escaped and hid in the woods overnight, before seeking help from a surviving neighbor and a 911 call was made. “The ugly” reality ignored was that this gunman, like most adult male mass shooters, displayed prior warning signs of being a dangerous man who had guns, was misogynistic, and perpetrated intimate partner violence.

The continuing necessity of a feminist analysis
Women 7 (W7) Ottawa, Canada · 2018

Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality, in preparation for Canada’s 2018 hosting of the other G7 countries of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, held the first-ever W7 feminist summit associated with the G7. Over 60 feminists from Canada, G7 countries, and places around the world met for two days. W7 pushed for G7 partners to ensure that a feminist analysis or lens was applied to G7 deliberations.

Ending violence against women was a key W7 recommendation. Calling for a feminist analysis in the mass shooting inquiry is politically correct and warranted. Furthermore, Minister Monsef would hear this W7 key recommendation repeated at the 2019 W7 summit chaired by France.

Women 7 (W7) Paris, France · 2019

By invitation, we Self-funded and joined more than 400 global feminist activists for the international W7 summit in Paris, France, held May 9-10, 2019. Like Canada’s W7, violence against women and girls was movingly debated and a key recommendation delivered to G7 country representatives.

Because of our 27 years supporting Canadian women who, as children or adults, survived torture perpetrated within family and intimate partner relationships, we went to the W7 prepared with our educational handout, Will W7 be legislatively bold? That’s our question! Handing it to one young woman, she said, “We know torture. It happens all the time in my country.”

The Paris W7 summit closed with a meeting between Women 7 and G7 Ministers for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights. Women 7 took turns standing to deliver to the Ministers their Recommendations.

Passionately speaking about their lived realities, they created personal backdrops as they spoke of the dire need for governments to advance systemic integration of women’s and girls’ human rights equality in the upcoming 2019 Paris G7 meeting. They urged governments to address women and girls never-ending struggle against the ugliness of patriarchal misogynistic domination, oppression, and violence. As in Canada, ending violence against women and girls was a key recommendation that Minister Monsef was present to hear, as this photo shows, and that she had heard at Canada’s 2018 W7 summit she facilitated.

W7 summit closes with G7 ministers for Gender Equality and Womens’ Rights. W7 members are grouped on the left, the ministers are seated in single file from the centre to the right.

The silence of the politicians

Why then is “a feminist analysis” not specifically written into the federal-provincial mass shooting inquiry mandate? When Minister Monsef was asked to support integrating a feminist analysis into the mass shooting inquiry, why did her office respond by stating this was “outside…[her] mandate”?

Why has Nova Scotia Minister for the Status of Women, Kelly Regan, not responded to emails sent to her from Nova Scotia feminists requesting a meeting to discuss the inclusion of a feminist analysis in the mass shooting inquiry? What happened to Canada’s W7 and G7 political responsibilities of ending violence against women and girls?

A feminist analysis in the Nova Scotia mass killing inquiry includes promoting prevention opportunities to deconstruct the social and cultural patriarchal misogyny that nurtures’ male violence against women and girls. Feminists have spoken of the need to include a feminist analysis in the inquiry, noting the importance that femicides and homicides have ties to domestic violence. Prevention awareness therefore comes by naming the killing of women as femicide and making the links that mass shootings are frequently preceded by relational assaults predominately by white men against their female partners. Educational interventions beginning with children and knowledge of red flag warnings of femicidal risks relating to male violence against women and girls can help prevent such violence spilling over and harming other adults or children.

The calls for a feminist analysis from coast-to-coast-to-coast

Calling for a feminist analysis in the mass shooting inquiry is politically correct and warranted. From coast-to-coast-to-coast, from grassroots, from feminists on the ground, from those with positions of power, from women and from men, come these closing statements.

First, from Nova Scotia:

Jackie Stevens, Avalon Centre: “[W]e can’t accept anything less than acknowledgement of the patriarchal roots of violence, and total commitment to dismantling these systems of oppression by bringing a feminist lens to a full public inquiry.”

Emily Stewart, Third Place: “Without a feminist analysis…the meaningful progress needed to make women and girls safer in our communities will likely be lost.”

Lenore Zann, MP: “The more that the public can realize that private violence can lead to public violence…the quicker we can do something about this.”

Michaela MacLachlan, The Lotus Centre: “[I]t’s imperative to identify the root issue of misogyny…to work towards the prevention of ongoing male violence against women.”

Sarah Flemming, Colchester Sexual Assault Centre: “By implementing a feminist lens to support the inquiry we can glean information to change laws to protect the most vulnerable.”

The Town of Truro Council and the Truro Police Board wrote to Minister Furey: “By examining misogyny as a root issue…the inquiry will bring…knowledge about how to reduce misogyny within our provincial culture, how to reduce and prevent male violence against women, and how to prevent femicide and mass shootings.”

From PEI:

Jillian Kilfoil, Women’s Network: “If we do not apply a feminist lens to this process, we will not get to the root causes of this violence, misogyny.”

From NL:

Jenny Wright, women’s rights activist, counsellor, educator, advisor with Canadian Femicide Observatory: “An inquiry must primarily address the violent misogyny that was the root cause of this preventable tragedy…As Canadians we can no longer accept the levels of femicide…embedded in…our society.”

From Ontario:

Megan Walker, The London Abused Women’s Centre: “A feminist analysis provides a lens into the systemic and structural inequalities that leaves women and girls vulnerable to male violence.”

Barry Parkinson, a private person, he writes: “In some ways, the violence in Nova Scotia is this generation’s École Polytechnique, both in terms of the nature of the violence and…how we can salvage something by confronting some of the underlying themes.”

Patricia Freeman Marshall, Order of Ontario: “Daily across Canada women and girls are tortured, trafficked and abused…No place in Canada is yet truly safe for women and children.”

From Alberta:

Eleanor Cowan, writer and feminist activist: “Let a feminist lens inquiry of the NS massacre honour the burial grounds of thousands of murdered Canadian women and girls in every province in Canada.”

From BC:

Hilla Kerner, Vancouver Rape Relief: “[T]he killer who executed the Nova Scotia mass-shooting was a man…[and] crucial in understanding this case, and the countless other cases, of men’s deadly violence against women and children.”

From Canada’s North:

Arlene Hache, activist, Order of Canada recipient: “[F]emicide and mass murders…are predictable and preventable, but continue unabated because the voices of women with lived expertise are excluded from the conversation and decision-making process“.

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