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February 25, 2022

This week’s update includes information on what to expect during next week’s proceedings, changes made to our proceedings calendar, and the ways you can follow the Commission’s work.

Thank You

With the first week of public proceedings complete, we would like to thank everyone for their ongoing engagement and valued contributions to the Commission’s work to date. Thank you to those most affected for your courage, and thank you to Participants and Participant counsel for your collaboration and hard work. We would like to thank everyone who spoke with us about your experience, as well as the community organizations and panelists who stepped up to share their perspectives. We would also like to thank the media for sharing the important work and topics of the inquiry thus far, especially as we get into what happened in April 2020.

What to Expect

Next week, we will begin to share detailed information from our investigation into the mass casualty. This information may be disturbing or challenging for many people. Commission counsel will walk through Foundational Documents that detail key facts. These presentations will share the evidence gathered by the Commission through numerous subpoenas, witness interviews and site visits. The Commission exhibits, including the Foundational Documents and their source materials, will be available on the website after they are presented during the public proceedings. On Monday, we will be sharing our current understanding of what happened in Portapique on April 18 and 19, 2020. This will include sharing 911 transcripts, audio files, and information provided by community members. We will also be examining what the first responders encountered when they entered the community, as well as the containment efforts in the community. This represents our current understanding of the facts, but is not the final word on the facts since additional investigation and information will continue to inform our understanding throughout the course of the inquiry. However, it is important for the public to have an understanding of what our investigation has produced so far. A shared understanding of the facts will help to ensure the right questions are asked about how and why the mass casualty could have happened.

We strongly encourage anyone following our work to consider how and when to receive this information. Recordings of the proceedings will be available on our website so that you may watch at a time and place that works best for you. On our wellness page there is an information sheet with tips about mental health and wellness available. We also advise everyone to familiarize themselves with mental health and wellness supports that are available to you:

  • If you are struggling in any way and would like help finding mental health or any wellness support, you can call 2-1-1 or visit their website. 211 offers 24/7 navigational assistance in over 100 languages. Their trained staff will be able to connect you directly to the right services for your needs. You can call for yourself or if you have concerns or questions about support for someone else.
  • If you are experiencing distress or overwhelming emotions at any time, you can call the Nova Scotia Provincial Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-888-429-8167. You do not have to be in a crisis to call and nothing is too big or too small a reason to reach out.
  • The Kids Help Phone can also provide confidential support at 1-800-668-6868 or Text CONNECT to 686868.


For the time being, attendance at the Halifax Convention Centre will continue to be limited to Participants, Participant counsel, Commission staff and media, but we look forward to welcoming the public as soon as restrictions lift. As stated in the Province’s COVID-19 re-opening plan, proof of full vaccination will no longer be required to attend non-essential events. Members of the public are still able to register to watch a live stream of the proceedings at the Community Viewing Site in Truro, or follow along via the webcast or phone line. Information on how to follow the proceedings can be found below:

  • Truro Community Viewing Site: For each day there is a proceeding being held in Halifax, there will be a Community Viewing Site located in Truro where members of the public will have an accessible place to sit and watch the live webcast of the proceedings. Registration is required in advance. For more details including location information, read our Community Notice.
  • Webcast: As originally planned, the public proceedings will be available through a live webcast. Webcast videos will also be available to watch at a later time (each proceeding day will be posted on the website).
  • Phone Line: If you are unable to access the website, you can listen to proceedings live by calling 1-877-385-4099 and entering code 1742076, followed by the # sign.

Witnesses and Oral Evidence

Throughout the inquiry, we will use different ways to hear from people, individually or in groups, for a variety of reasons. Please find below some general information about what to expect from the process.

  • Witnesses: We will hear from some people individually to provide sworn testimony. This may include representatives of institutions, subject matter experts or people with technical expertise who can explain how a particular system works (a “technical witness”).
  • Witness circle: This is a discussion-based format that is used not to determine facts but to provide important context to understand what happened. The facilitator of a circle does not ask direct questions as you would of a witness in a trial, because it builds on a shared understanding of a set of facts. A witness circle is not a chance to test evidence. Rather, during witness circles, the facilitator uses a dialogue-based format to gather additional insight to help the listener understand the underlying facts. An understanding of the human aspect of institutional and organizational systems under scrutiny makes it more likely that the listener can make recommendations that will be practical for the people who work in the systems.
  • Witness panel: A witness panel is when two or more witnesses are questioned concurrently. This format can improve understanding of the evidence, reduce the adversarial process to better assist the inquiry in a professional and respectful manner. This format may be used in any of the phases of the Commission’s work but is often effectively used when hearing from experts.
  • Participant questions: Commission counsel will advise Participants for what purpose a witness is being called in advance. Commission counsel will tell Participants what documents are associated with a witness’s anticipated evidence. To learn more about this process, you can read our Rules of Practice and Procedure.

After Participants receive this information about a witness (including a technical witness), they can advise Commission counsel if there are additional areas they wish to explore, and if they want to question the witness themselves. Participants may provide additional documents they wish the witness to speak about. Commission counsel will collaborate with Participants in their planning for witness questioning and Participants will have the opportunity to make any outstanding requests to cross-examine directly to the Commissioners in advance of the witness being called.

Proceedings Calendar

Web and mobile users can watch the live stream, or access a recording of the proceedings by clicking on the entries in the calendar. An agenda for that day will be available, and Commission exhibits, including the Foundational Documents, will be added to the calendar entry after they have been entered into evidence during the proceedings. Commissioned Reports, transcripts, and Foundational Documents and their source materials which are addressed during the proceedings, will be uploaded to the website after they are tabled in proceedings. We will work to post all documents as soon as possible.

Share your Experience

Thank you to everyone who has responded to our Share Your Experience survey. We appreciate your time and your input is valuable to our work. There are options if you would rather share by speaking with someone directly, or the survey will be open until March 8. More information is available on our Share Your Experience page.

Ongoing Updates

If you know others interested in receiving these updates, please point them to the sign-up link on our homepage or email us directly. We also encourage you to pass along how people can take part and prepare to share their experiences and perspectives. We welcome hearing from you anytime via email to or by calling either 902-407-7532 (local) or 1-833-635-2501 (toll-free). We are also constantly sharing updates about how to take part via our website, Facebook and Twitter.


The Mass Casualty Commission

Hon. J. Michael MacDonald, Chair

Leanne J. Fitch (Ret. Police Chief, M.O.M.)

Dr. Kim Stanton

Content Warning: The following video contains scenes including the discharging of firearms causing death. There is a “quick exit” button at the top of the website if you need it, and Wellness Supports are also listed.

Some of the information within this website may be disturbing or upsetting for some visitors. This website deals with information about events that include gun and other violence, including gender-based violence and intimate partner violence. If you need to leave at any point, there is a “quick exit” button at the top of the website. This website also includes some suggested resources, should you be in need of support.

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