Halifax university students walked from Portapique to Enfield
raising money for N.S. mass shooting victims families
ELMSDALE: When Adrian Delli Colli heard about the mass shooting in April that ravaged communities from Portapique to Enfield, a 150-kilometre stretch, he knew he wanted to do something to help.
That’s when the planning for that “something” began.
It turned into The Wagon Walk, with a goal of raising $1,000 initially. However, that total was quickly surpassed as people stopped them along the route giving them cheques, money, and even e-transferring some monetary support.
“When I found out about the shooting, I was taken aback by the distance the gunman was able to travel before they took him out, so I immediately knew I was going to do something with that distance but I didn’t know what yet,” said Delli Colli, a second year Dalhousie University student from New Hampshire. “From concept to plan to actually finishing it feels unreal we’ve been able to carry it out.”
The money is all going to educational scholarships overseen by the Nova Scotia Remembers Legacy Society and the Portapique Community Build Up.
Delli Colli, taking Recreation Management, and friend and fellow Dal student Ireland Thurler, 19, from Ontario, began the walk on Nov. 5 at the community hall in Portapique and walked the next four days until they reached the East Hants RCMP detachment in Enfield.
In the wagon they pulled behind them was tulip bulbs for each of the 23 victims, including the unborn Baby Beaton.
The two stayed on Nov. 7 at the Stewiacke Fire Hall after being escorted along the road from Brookfield.
The next morning, the final day of their journey, they began in Stewiacke, being escorted by Stewiacke fire from there through to Shubenacadie and Milford where fire fighters from Milford, Lantz and Elmsdale met them, taking them the remainder of the journey.
The Wagon Walk passes Milford Lions Park in Milford escorted by fire department vehicles from Milford, Elmsdale, and Lantz. They get a honk of support from this Enfield RCMP cruiser. (Healey video)
In Shubenacadie the two and their friends walked past the spot where RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson and Good Samaritan Joey Webber lost their lives near Rex McCoul Park. They stopped there and made a short presentation to a few and were joined by a dog that was injured when its owner was killed nearby.
Three firefighters from Elmsdale and Lantz donned their fire bunker gear and walked with the two and their throng of friends the rest of the five kilometre journey to the RCMP detachment, where Const. Heidi Stevenson, who was among the 22 victims, worked. During the last stretch, the group passed in front of the home of retired Elmsdale firefighter Tom Bagley, who was also one of the victims in the shooting.
Thurler and Delli Colli spoke to The Laker News near the cenotaph in Elmsdale as their friends kept going.
“Nova Scotia Strong is three words that matter to all of us,” said Delli Colli. “It’s not about where you’re from.”
Thurler spoke about what it was like walking for the victim’s families from the worst mass shooting in Canadian modern history and the Portapique build up fund.
“It’s been so inspiring, seeing all the people along the way, having the families of the victims stop us and say how much they support us and that they love what we’re doing,” said Thurler. “That’s just been the coolest part. It’s been amazing.”
She said with five kilometres to go, the two were very much hurting but run off shear emotion.
“We’re running off adrenaline right now,” she said. “I’m not feeling anything yet.”
“We’ll see tonight how we feel,” chimed in Delli Colli. “Every honk every 30 seconds or so, people running out on their lawns, pulling over their cars just to donate keeps us going.
“That’s what has got us through.”
With all the questions answered from The Laker News, the two were able to walk at a good pace to catch up to the rest of the group, which had stopped for a short break at the Elmsdale Fire Department, before continuing to the Enfield RCMP detachment.
At the detachment, there was a short event and the long four day walk in honour of those killed during the worst mass shooting in Canadian modern history concluded.