It’s been a year. One year from that tragic day in Ottawa. Although the fear of that day has passed the feeling of vulnerability hasn’t completely gone away.
On October 20, 2014, a supporter of ISIL deliberately targeted two Canadian soldiers in uniform in Quebec killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and injuring one other.
Two days later on October 22, 2014 another gunman shot and killed a uniformed Cpl Nathan Cirillo while he was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. The gunman then stormed Parliament before he was killed by security.
These two incidents came on the heels of an audio recording released by ISIS specifically targeting western nations including Canada. (Global News) What made these difficult days for military families was the pandemonium, lack of information on the news as well as mis-information on the news. How many gunmen were there? Were they specifically targeting soldiers? Were our spouses at risk? What would happen tomorrow? As a culture we are pretty adept at weathering and coping with deployed spouses but this was different. This was at home.
Our local military spousal site proved to be a very useful resource on this day. The site is typically a positive environment where people posted to Ottawa gather to ask questions and meet new friends. On this day the buildings downtown were in lock-down while the authorities attempted to determine how many gunmen there were and who they were targeting. Many of our spouses wear their uniforms to work making them easy to identify.
Sharing of information proved invaluable. Some of the spouses on the site had husbands who had access to phones while others did not. All the while, the media spoke of multiple gunmen with unknown whereabouts. The people on our site rallied around each other and reassured each other with real information. Offers were made to pick up children from childcare as many of the spouses do not have family support and have only been in the community for a short time.
That day was terrible. The loss of two young soldiers is tragic. Families are affected forever. Many civilians were also affected by that day, as the downtown core turned into a ghost town while people waited. I can only imagine how the workers in the Parliament buildings managed to get through such a horrifying experience.
On October 22, 2015 a ceremony took place at the War Memorial in Ottawa. As we approach Remembrance Day, I am thinking of so many families on this one year anniversary, and thanking them for their sacrifice for their loved one’s service.