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Final report into N.S. mass shooting to be released today

The independent commission tasked with examining the deadliest mass shooting in modern Canadian history is releasing its final report, almost three years after the April 2020 tragedy.

Today at noon AT, the Mass Casualty Commission is expected to deliver a roughly 3,000-page report in Truro, N.S., with its findings on the events of April 18 and 19, 2020, when 22 people were killed in 13 hours by a gunman posing as a Mountie.

CBC News will carry a live webcast of the event in this story.

The recommendations are expected to address the shooter’s access to firearms, his prior interactions with police and social services, emergency communications, intimate-partner violence, police actions and training, and how those most affected by the violence were informed and supported.

Michael Scott of Patterson Law, the firm representing most of the victims’ families, said his clients are hoping for a strong report that includes “insightful, meaningful opportunities for change” they can champion in years to come. 

“They put a great deal of time and effort into this inquiry. It was certainly difficult for all of them, and I think they want nothing more than for that effort to mean something — for it to be for a positive purpose,” Scott said Tuesday.

A white man with brown hair and beard wears a suit with black jacket and white shirt, while standing at a podium with a microphone.
Michael Scott is a lawyer with Patterson Law, whose firm represents more than a dozen families of the victims. (CBC)

“They’ll obviously be very concerned if … that result doesn’t make the sort of changes that they were hoping to see, because they obviously struggled just to get an inquiry in the first place.”

Throughout the inquiry, the commissioners hinted that the final report will suggest how to improve community safety across Canada, without laying blame. But Scott said that should not stop them from discussing accountability.

“It’s impossible to remedy failures in response to a mass killing unless we’re willing to identify and acknowledge those failings,” he said. 

“That’s a prerequisite to making meaningful recommendations for change.”

final report into n s mass shooting to be released today 1

What a public inquiry revealed about the Nova Scotia mass shooting

4 months ago

Duration 13:42

A look at what unfolded behind the scenes on the day of and days following the 2020 tragedy in Portapique, N.S., where a lone gunman masqueraded as a police officer and killed 22 people, including a pregnant woman, in five rural communities over a period of 13 hours. CBC Halifax’s Angela MacIvor reports.

Given the RCMP’s uneven record when it comes to implementing recommendations and guidelines following other tragedies, Scott said several years of work will be needed to ensure the recommendations don’t “fall off the table … as we’ve seen in the past.”

The violence began with the shooter, Gabriel Wortman, attacking his partner, Lisa Banfield, on the night of April 18, 2020. While she was able to escape, he went on to kill 13 people in Portapique, N.S., and burn down several houses in the small Colchester County community, including his own.

The commission believes the gunman then left via a back road in a replica RCMP cruiser as the first Mounties responded to the shootings. He stayed overnight in the Debert area, about 20 kilometres east of Portapique.

The next day, he killed nine more people, including a pregnant woman. The rampage ended when he was fatally shot by two RCMP officers at a gas station in Enfield, more than 90 kilometres south of where the shooting spree began.

The victims include neighbours or former colleagues of the gunman, strangers who crossed his path, and an RCMP officer who wounded him in a gunfight.

A collage of 22 people shows the faces of the people who died in four rows
Twenty-two people died on April 18 and 19, 2020, as well as the gunman. Top row from left: Gina Goulet, Dawn Gulenchyn, Jolene Oliver, Frank Gulenchyn, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins. Second row: John Zahl, Lisa McCully, Joey Webber, Heidi Stevenson, Heather O’Brien and Jamie Blair. Third row from top: Kristen Beaton, Lillian Campbell, Joanne Thomas, Peter Bond, Tom Bagley and Greg Blair. Bottom row: Emily Tuck, Joy Bond, Corrie Ellison and Aaron Tuck. (CBC)

The inquiry sat from February to September 2022, and included 76 days of public hearings, during which the commission released 31 documents and more than 7,000 exhibits and source materials.

It was mandated jointly by the province and by Ottawa, and is expected to cost around $47 million in funding from the two levels of government.

The commissioners heard from 230 witnesses as part of their investigation, including about 80 members of the RCMP. Only 60 of the witnesses testified at the public proceedings, about half of whom were RCMP members.

But the commission’s decision to prioritize closed-door interviews and limit questions for key witnesses, in an attempt to be trauma-informed, caused resentment and frustration for many victims’ families.

The final report was originally supposed to be released on Nov. 1, 2022, but the commission asked for the deadline to be moved to March 2023.


If you are experiencing distress or overwhelming emotions at any time, you can call the Nova Scotia Provincial Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-888-429-8167. The Nova Scotia Provincial Crisis Service can also provide contacts for other crisis services that are available if you live outside Nova Scotia. 

If you or someone you know is struggling in any way, you can call 211 or visit 211.ca. 211 offers help 24 hours a day in more than one hundred languages and will be able to connect you directly to the right services for your needs. 

The Kids Help Phone is a national helpline that provides confidential support at 1-800-668-6868 or Text CONNECT to 686868. 

Additional supports for across Canada are available at www.wellnesstogether.ca. 

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