Trauma re­vived for N.B. four years af­ter fa­tal Monc­ton attack

The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - FREDERICTON SHOOTING -

Fam­ily mem­bers of three RCMP of­fi­cers killed in a 2014 Monc­ton attack say the Fred­er­ic­ton shoot­ing deaths will bring a fresh wave of trauma to New Brunswick – and bring painful mem­o­ries to the sur­face for many.

The shoot­ings that killed four peo­ple on Fri­day – in­clud­ing two mu­nic­i­pal po­lice of­fi­cers – come just four years af­ter Justin Bourque’s Monc­ton ram­page that killed RCMP con­sta­bles Doug Larche, Fabrice Ge­vau­dan and Dave Ross.

Daniel Larche, brother of one of the slain con­sta­bles, said news of the Fred­er­ic­ton deaths is dif­fi­cult to hear.

“I can em­pathize with what th­ese peo­ple are about to go through and hope­fully they’ll have the sup­port and some of the tools they need to get through it,” Mr. Larche said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “It’s go­ing to be tough. It’s go­ing to be hard for them.”

Con­sta­bles Eric Dubois and Dar­lene Goguen were also in­jured when Mr. Bourque went hunt­ing po­lice of­fi­cers in a Monc­ton neigh­bour­hood on June 4, 2014. Mr. Bourque had tar­geted po­lice in the hopes of spark­ing an anti-gov­ern­ment re­bel­lion.

An­gela Ge­vau­dan, the widow of Fabrice Ge­vau­dan, said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that she was feel­ing a sense of pro­tec­tive­ness on Fri­day for the fam­i­lies, know­ing how they will be over­whelmed by emo­tions as they re­ceive news of the deaths.

They will need to just re­ceive sim­ple in­for­ma­tion for a time, as they strug­gle to process the shock of the deaths of their loved ones, she said.

“It’s go­ing to take a lot of time to process, and the im­ages, mo­ments and mem­o­ries and every­thing coming in is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for ev­ery­one in­volved,” Ms. Ge­vau­dan said in an in­ter­view.

“It’s heart­break­ing and, of course, I’m think­ing of ev­ery­one who is im­pacted by it and I’m just hop­ing that they’ll get the sup­port they need.”

Since she lost her hus­band, Ms. Ge­vau­dan has done vol­un­teer work as an am­bas­sador for Tema, a group that pro­vides help and ad­vo­cates for first re­spon­ders who are suf­fer­ing from PTSD.

She has also of­fered sup­port and shared her ex­pe­ri­ence with oth­ers suf­fer­ing from trauma.

Ms. Ge­vau­dan said she didn’t re­ally want to speak about her own re­ac­tions on Fri­day, say­ing she didn’t want to make the lat­est deaths in Fred­er­ic­ton about her own dif­fi­cult mem­o­ries.

How­ever, the for­mer 911 op­er­a­tor said it will be im­por­tant for first re­spon­ders who are an­gered or up­set by the lat­est deaths to let their emo­tions come out, rather than sup­press them.

“Let emo­tions you are feel­ing be ac­knowl­edged and be felt. That it­self helps you process the trauma and helps with the heal­ing,” she said.

Mr. Larche said the dif­fi­cult mem­o­ries of his brother’s death con­tinue to be pow­er­ful four years af­ter the Monc­ton mur­ders, and to hear that oth­ers in uni­form have been killed is hard news to re­ceive.

“There’s an ex­tra at­tach­ment I guess, or con­nec­tion with first re­spon­ders, given my own at­tach­ment to my brother,” he said.

“Peo­ple who step up try to do their best to pro­tect peo­ple. A lot of things this coun­try has is be­cause peo­ple were will­ing to risk their lives for some­thing bet­ter.”

In ad­di­tion, he said he be­lieves many peo­ple in Monc­ton who wit­nessed the shooter mov­ing through the city or who dealt with the in­jured or wounded po­lice of­fi­cers are go­ing to strug­gle with resur­fac­ing mem­o­ries.

“It’s tough for New Brunswick,” he said. “Had it hap­pened in Monc­ton it would have been an ex­tra trig­ger for peo­ple. There are lots of peo­ple who have still not re­cov­ered. It’s still a trau­matic event for peo­ple.”

Mean­while, across Canada, polic­ing lead­ers sent mes­sages of sup­port and con­do­lences on New Brunswick’s lat­est tragedy.

Hal­i­fax Re­gional Po­lice Chief Jean-Michel Blais tweeted his sup­port. He said he had been in contact with the Fred­er­ic­ton force.

“I have spo­ken to Chief Fitch per­son­ally to of­fer her any sup­port we can give. We stand with City Fred Po­lice while they deal with this sit­u­a­tion.”

Ms. Ge­vau­dan said those mes­sages will be ap­pre­ci­ated by the fam­i­lies over time. But for now those who are di­rectly in­volved will need time and space, she said.

“One who is learn­ing of this could be dev­as­tated for sure. It’s vi­o­lent. … I think we have a hard time un­der­stand­ing how cer­tain peo­ple can choose to do th­ese kinds of things. And I think it adds to our sad­ness and dev­as­ta­tion in this kind of mo­ment.”

“It adds to the trauma be­cause it feels likes it’s … not right, and it shouldn’t hap­pen.”

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