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School friend says victim was “amazing friend”

Wynter Connors looks back on her school years and smiles through her tears as she remembers her friend, Alanna Jenkins.

Jenkins was among the 22 victims in the shooting and arson rampage that began last Saturday night in the community of Portapique in neighbouring Colchester County. She and her husband, Sean McLeod, lost their lives in a house fire in West Wentworth on April 19 that was a result of the devastating crime spree.

Connors, who grew up in on the east side of New Glasgow, and Jenkins were childhood friends. They went to school together from Grade 7 through to university at St. Francis Xavier in Antigonish.

“She was an amazing friend with a kind spirit and was full of life,” Connors says.

“There are no words to express how painful this is …
My heart aches for her family and all the other families and friends that are going through the pain and loss.”

Connors recalls Jenkins as having a love for music.

“She was always up for a good time and once she got her licence – look out! We would cruise around town blasting our fave tunes… music was one of her loves … she knew every up and coming song and all the lyrics.”

Their teenaged adventures took them to Magic Valley, random fields with hay bales, the beach and Jenkins’ cottage.

“One of my favourite moments was her sweet 16 sleepover and corn boil at her cottage with family and friends… so many memories made on the beach that night.”

And Connors praises Jenkins’ ability to connect with children.

“Alanna was amazing with kids, always babysitting for friends of the family. She absolutely glowed every time she talked about her “kids”.

After high school, the two reconnected at StFX, where new memories were made; Connors recalls sharing drinks, hanging out and swapping recipes. “Our bond grew stronger, and a new circle of friends was made. Alanna was so welcoming and a great friend to so many.” 

The best of friendships stand the test of time and Connors is thankful, particularly at this devastatingly sad time, for her circle of friends that stretches back many years.

“We had an amazing group  of friends through junior and senior high school,” she notes. “We all connected through Facebook messenger the other night, having drinks, swapping stories of Alanna and sharing photos. Tears were shed. Realizing we will always have each other no matter where life takes us. It’s so sad that tragedy made us realize this.”

Connors now lives in Timberlea with her husband Cory and daughters Ella and Brynn.

“I can’t even fathom explaining this horrific act to my two young children; they know that a special woman that was mommy’s friend is gone to heaven. When they get older and learn about what happened in Nova Scotia on April 19, I’ll be right there telling them how beautiful Alanna was inside and out, how supportive and strong we are as a province to cope through such an unfair loss.”

She offered a parting word to her friend:  “Thanks for sharing the recipe for broccoli and curry chicken casserole. It became a family favourite in my house!”

Wynter Connors, top left, and Alanna Jenkins, bottom, with a group of friends in their school days. (Submitted photo)