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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 5 June 2014


Manhunt: Residents of Moncton are being urged by police to stay indoors

A surreal and terrifying scenario is playing itself out in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Three RCMP officers are dead and two more are injured.  The whole city is on lock-down as the killer, suspected to be a 24 year-old named Justin Bourque remains at large and well-armed.  

Thought to be hiding in woods right now, possibly living out a twisted fantasy-version of First Blood, Bourque has terrorized the community.  

That picture above was taken by a resident as an armed, unstable man walked across their lawn.

School has been cancelled.  Red Cross meals to seniors have been cancelled.  Businesses have shut their doors for safety; their customers are likewise staying indoors.  Life in the city has come to a jarring halt.

However this ends - and pray it ends as quickly as possible with a minimum of additional casualties - this indecent is an injury that will leave a deep scar on the memory of the people of Moncton.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country - indeed, many places around the world are riveted to this car-crash of a story.  It's just so horrific, it's hard to look away.

All this, because of one man.

We'll learn more about Justin Bourque as the tragedy draws to a close and questions rise about how it happened in the first place.  For now, we know that he liked guns, didn't like police and was decidedly anti-establishment.  He'd be a poster-boy for the NRA, if it weren't for the fact he has become a terrorist.

We know what we know about him through a study of his social media presence, where Bourque left countless hints at where his mind was heading.  We've also got some quotes from people who knew him - how he disturbed friends by snuggling a rifle while camping, how he wanted to go out with a bang and bring people with him, etc.

It's always nice learning about how many warning signs were present after the fact.

All of this is going to fuel broader conversations about online privacy, gun ownership, education, crime and punishment, etc.  Atrocious incidents like this tend to get people worked up about their existing position, leading to passionate clashes.

There's also the other side of this - the community side.  Twitter has exploded in conversation about Moncton; human tragedies have a habit of compelling people to communicate, to reach out.  It's a good instinct, this, as community solidarity gives us strength of numbers against common foes.

Twitter has also become a tool for alerts, far more effective than a TV blast or even robocalls could be.  Police have been able to use Twitter to post warnings; people within Moncton have used Twitter to warn friends and neighbours, communicate information about safety and whereabouts.  

There is, of course, risks associated with this - there have been more than a few cautions issued about not tweeting information that could harm the police's investigation.

From a big-picture, removed perspective, the story is of one troubled man who gave out warning signs that a community did not respond to, until it was too late; when the crisis hit, though, that community came together in support of each other.

But the people of Moncton don't live in the stratosphere.  They're on the ground, huddled in their homes, fearful of their safety and soon to face the harsh reality that they now live in a world where such horrors are possible.

Spare a thought to the people of Moncton, especially the families and comrades of the fallen.  
Honour the men and women who put themselves in the line of fire, daring to do what most of us would not - not for money, but out of a sense of duty.

Think a bit about how this could have been prevented - how and to who could those around Bourque have registered their concerns so that intervention could have happened?

Most of all, be mindful of the world you live in.  Drink in every moment, be present in your joys, be conscious of the challenges of others.

Because the reality is that what is happening right now in Moncton could happen anywhere.

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