Jean MacDonald’s heart sank when she went outdoors to examine her Nova Scotia flag.
“My first thought was someone marked all over it,” the well-known Pictou resident said.
The flag was recently hung on her garage door and she was proud to have it fly.
“Then I looker closer and I could see signatures all over it.”
Her spirits went from despair to soaring heights as she realized anyone who passed by her home on Haliburton Road was stopping to where her flag was hung on her garage door and signing it.
The Nova Scotia flag was a thoughtful gift from a neighbour and MacDonald wanted to hang it prominently to show her pride in Nova Scotia following the mass murders that took place the weekend of April 18 and 19 in Colchester County and her support for the families and loved ones of the victims.
When she went to hang the flag on the barn door she was again delighted at the kindness of a stranger who assisted her in hanging the flag.
“I was out there (at the barn) and this man was passing by and he took the staple gun from me and he put it on my garage door. The next morning I went out and I saw something marked on the flag. And I thought, ‘oh no, what did somebody do to my flag,’ then I looked closer and I saw that it was a name.”
And that’s how it all started.
Every day since she first put the flag out a couple of weeks ago MacDonald noticed a new signature or two on the flag. It was becoming normal to see the growing list of names and encouraging messages so she decided to hang a bag of pens and markers from her garage door as an invitation for passersby to show their support by signing the flag.
“People keep signing it,” she smiled, “and at the end of the month I’m going to take it and give it to my niece who is married to an RCMP member — he’s retired now — and he’s going to drop it off to the Enfield RCMP detachment for me.”
After hanging for a couple of weeks, the flag already has approximately 30 signatures on it. Some are just names only, some offer words of encouragement or support.
One person even attached a handmade cardboard sign beside the flag with the words, “God gave them to us and God took them back.” It’s signed, Alex, age 10.
“That’s really sweet,” MacDonald commented. “Someone just 10 years old saying something like that.”
The actions of passersby in signing the flag is bringing joy to 87-year-old MacDonald.
“That’s what I want,” she encouraged. “I’ve even asked people if they’d mind signing it. Everybody’s signing now and it’s nice.”
MacDonald, who has lived in Pictou since 1942, said while she is not connected to any of the victims in the shooting and arson rampage that took place in Portapique and surrounding area, she sympathizes for the surviving families. “My heart goes out to them.”
Jean MacDonald, right, watches while her friend, Gwen Langille-MacKinnon, adds her name to those already on the Nova Scotia flag that hangs on her garage door on Haliburton Road. At the end of the month, she plans to have the flag delivered to the RCMP barracks in Enfield.