You may or may not know that yesterday, the nation’s capital experienced a dramatic security threat that has us all a little shaken up. Around 10 a.m., a gunman shot and killed ceremonial soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who was standing guard at the city’s war memorial. Shortly after the gunman, who we now know to be Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, ran up to Parliament Hill and managed to get inside the main building called Centre Block, firing several rounds before he was shot and killed by the Sargeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers.
The downtown core was completely locked down until late yesterday evening. All government buildings, schools and hospitals were also on lock-down and every military base in the country was secured. There were helicopters circling above the city, police cars stationed at major intersections and armed officers scanning the streets and securing buildings.
It is safe to say that I had never experienced anything like this before and I think I speak for most Ottawans when I say that we never thought this would happen here. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Cpl. Cirillo and I am very grateful for the Ottawa City Police, RCMP and everyone else who helped to secure the city.
I’m back at work today and wanted to write this post to recognize the tragic death of Cpl. Cirillo and to thank the men and women who acted so bravely yesterday. The city is still on alert and although everyone is back to work, things feel a little different. I know that the fear and violence we experienced yesterday is something that many around the world experience on a daily basis and on a larger scale. Canada is used to its role as a peacekeeping nation and as a country that sends its soldiers abroad to help others. To have this violence come to our shores is very unusual and it certainly has woken us up to the reality that we may not be so immune to these attacks.
We have perhaps naively always believed that everyone loves Canada and no one could ever attack us, but it just takes one person (as we witnessed yesterday) to wreak havoc on an entire city and to cause pain and sadness in others. I certainly don’t want this event to change the face of our city. I don’t want to see barricades and armed guards every where, but I expect we’ll see new security measures put in place for at least a little while. I hope we can continue to attend Yoga on the Hill every Wednesday come spring and I hope that we can still pay tribute to our fallen soldiers with ceremonial guards at the war memorial.
I don’t want this event to be blown out of proportion and used to manipulate us with fear, and I don’t want this to encourage other violent people to act out. I think this is a common fear at the moment, taking into consideration the fact that just the day before, Montreal experienced a violent act as well.
It’s difficult to know what to say today. We must be a little more cautious in the coming days but we should also just Stay Calm and Carry On, as the old saying goes. I can now appreciate more than ever the importance of that message when it was first produced in 1939 to rally the British public in the fear of air attacks.
So I’ll carry on with things here on the blog, business as usual.