Canadians across the nation are wearing red today to honour fallen RCMP member Cst. Heidi Stevenson, who was killed in the line of duty on April 19, 2020, and the other victims of the Nova Scotia shootings.
The RCMP, in partnership with the National Police Federation, has determined Friday to be a Day of Mourning, and both are encouraging Canadians to share pictures, videos and other messages of support online using the hashtag #WearRedFriday.
The Wear Red campaign originally began as a way to support Canadian troops in Afghanistan and has recently been embraced by spouses of fallen RCMP officers.
There were at least 23 victims of now deceased gunman Gabriel Wortman’s rampage, with information now emerging that Wortman knew many of those killed.
Chris Williams, a retired RCMP member who attended a trainee boot camp with Stevenson in 1995, told Global News that, “She (Stevenson) had an absolutely infectious smile that would light up the room and that you could see from a mile away. It didn’t matter how much stress she was under, what was going on — that smile would be constant.”
Messages of support have poured in from coast to coast, with some Canadians hanging Nova Scotia’s provincial flag. Others have combined the tragedy with the “Hearts in the Window” campaign, placing hearts in blue and white, the colours of Nova Scotia’s flag, in their windows to show solidarity at a time when it is not possible to come together physically. Both Niagara Falls and Toronto’s CN Tower glowed blue and white in their own show of support.
“Niagara Falls stands in solidarity with the province of Nova Scotia and the entire country, in mourning the individuals who lost their lives in the senseless tragedy,” reads a release from The Niagara Parks Commission.
At noon CST, (10:00am PST) Canadians were also asked to stop what they were doing and observe a moment of silence in order to honour those who lost their lives in one of Canada’s deadliest mass shootings.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with restrictions on gatherings and non-essential travel, Cst. Stevenson will not be honoured with a regimental funeral. This is the first time in recent memory that an officer who died in the line of duty would not be commemorated with a regimental funeral. It is for this reason that the RCMP and National Police Federation encourage everyone to show solidarity by wearing red and to stand together in spirit to help victims’ families heal in these unprecedented times.
“This was an unimaginably tragic event that underscores the very real risk that our RCMP Members face when they go to work everyday to protect our communities,” said Brian Sauvé, President of the National Police Federation.
“Our hope is that this small gesture will help unite Canadians in a show of support for the RCMP and the families of all the victims of this tragic event.”