Maritime woman living in Ottawa reflects on Parliament Hill shooting

Samantha Charbonneau says shooting changed the city

Samantha Charbonneau, photo by Samantha Charbonneau

It was a crisp fall day in October when Samantha Charbonneau received an unusual text message. She was at her home in Orleans, Ontario, a small suburb twenty-five minutes from Ottawa, with her infant child and husband, Rene.

“ I was at home, and I happened to get a text from my brother, Daniel, who lives in the Maritimes, and the first thing he asked was ‘is Rene working today?’ “ said Charbonneau who had moved from Halifax to Ottawa in 2009 for better employment opportunities.

Charbonneau’s husband, Rene, works for the Canadian government at Industry Canada, his office is a five minute drive from Parliament Hill.

“I said ‘he’s working from home today, why?’ and he said ‘turn on your T.V., didn’t you hear about the shooting downtown?’ said Charbonneau.

By the time Carbonneau turned on her television an armed man named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had already fatally shot and killed 24 year old Canadian Soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, where he stood guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Zehaf-Bibeau then continued to Parliament Hill’s Centre Block where he was shot and killed by parliament security personnel.

Charbonneau said the vibes in Ottawa are different now then what they were before October 22nd, 2014.

“ It used to be ‘oh my goodness, let’s look at Parliament Hill and all it represents’, and now it’s like, ‘should we go to Parliament Hill? Is it safe up there?’ It’s just not the same,”

Charbonneau said she does think something like this could happen anywhere, even in Halifax, because of its strong military presence. RCMP said Zehaf-Bibeau had ideological and political motives when he attacked Parliament Hill.

Charbonneau plans to pay her respects to Corporal Nathan Cirillo on the one year anniversary of his death.

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