Mass shootings return fear

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Fear is something Jean Dwyer thought she left behind when she moved to Nova Scotia.

The New Glasgow resident moved here from Alabama three years ago. She says, “I do my best to spend as much time as I can here,” and jokingly refers to herself as a “Trump dodger.”

But she is serious when she says she came here to escape what she started to see, what she says “Trump was releasing in people, how they felt emboldened by him. The more he became popular, people got worse. And it scared me. It was already scary enough in America and this gun violence here just brought all these other things forward to me.”

The gun violence she is referring to is the tragic events that unfolded the weekend of April 18 and 19 in nearby Colchester County.

“It’s so rare here.”

She spoke about the horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 that claimed the lives of 26 people, and the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., in 2018 that killed 17 people and wounded 17 more.

So shocked was Dwyer at the violence that began in Portapique that she became scared to walk her dog.

And that’s not what she came to Nova Scotia for. She came here for the peace, solitude and welcoming spirit for which Nova Scotians are known.

Before moving to Nova Scotia Dwyer had no connection to here. “I went to the ‘If Trump wins’ website on a lark,” she laughs. She’s always loved real estate and found the housing market affordable.

A woman of strong faith she adds, “God led me specifically here to New Glasgow, specifically here to this house.”

‘This house’ is a 3,400-plus square foot home that she shares with several fur babies and Dwyer can envision her 33 year-old son and her 30 year-old ‘adopted’ son, who currently still live in Alabama, moving into some day. “I grew up in a multi-generational home and I want my boys to be up here with me and populate this house.”

Several weeks following the horror in Portapique, Dwyer was walking her dogs and felt fear.

“I was walking the dogs and it was scary, which is not right. I thought if I’m scared now how in the world am I going to feel when we get back to normal? Because normal here is when there’s ball game going on down the road, or when there is festival going on and that time of night when they’re putting off fireworks, or when somebody in the neighbourhood puts off fireworks… When I first moved here and I heard fireworks it would scare me. Because in my old neighbourhood of Huntsville when you hear that, it’s gunshots.”

Dwyer is hoping the fear she feels now will not stay with her.

“I grew up in a hundred-year old house in a small town in Alabama and New Glasgow reminds me of where I grew up. The people here are so wonderful, the attitude, everything. It reminds me of where I grew up and how I grew up … people talk with people here, it’s wonderful.”

The violence, Dwyer says, will not make her leave. “It hasn’t changed Canada to me.”