A group of south Ottawa churches honoured the memory of 26 victims of a tragic US school shooting last week.
On Dec. 21 at 9:30 a.m., exactly one week after a 20-year-old gunman shot his way into an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. and killed 20 children and six adults, churches in Manotick, Osgoode, Kars and Metcalfe joined parishes across the continent in a moment of ringing remembrance.
At St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Osgoode, church lay reader and caretaker Wilburn Cowan slowly pulled the rope 26 times while resident Rob Brewster counted aloud.
Brewster organized the local churches to participate in the remembrance, which he said was met with immediate support from churches that have a belfry.
“There was no reluctance on their part,” he said. “They wanted to do this.”
Brewster said he wanted Ottawa’s villages to remember the 26 victims because the tragedy could have happened anywhere.
“That town was idyllic. It was the best place to grow up,” Brewster said. “It could have been here.”
On Dec. 14, a heavily-armed man burst into Sandy Hook Elementary School and began shooting a semi-automatic rifle and several handguns. Most of the victims were six or seven years old. Brewster said he was spurred into action because they were so young.
“The news doesn’t usually bother me but I just couldn’t wrap my head around this one,” he said.
“The little tykes never had a chance to grow up,” he said.
Along with St. Paul’s, St. John the Evangelist Catholic church in Enniskerry, Kars United Church, Manotick United Church and Holy Trinity Church in Metcalfe all rang their bells beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Bells rang out in communities across the United States at the same time to remember the victims. In Connecticut and several other states, the day was designated an official day of mourning.