"This is a dark time in Manitoba." Those words from Premier Wab Kinew who offered his condolences and words of encouragement during a news conference Monday after RCMP provided an update on the five homicides that took place Sunday in and around Carman and the R.M. of Cartier.
"I remember what it's like to hold a 2 1/2-month-old in my arms. I remember what it's like to walk a four-year-old to nursery. I remember what it's like to hold the hand of a six-year-old while you're crossing the road. I remember what it's like to be there with a 17-year-old who should be thinking about grad clothes. And I know what it's like at the end of each day to share a laugh with my wife," said the Premier. "I think people from all walks of life, in every part of this province, understand these bonds, because these bonds are sacred. And this time is difficult for us right now because these sacred bonds have been broken in our province and there is no context, there is no explanation, that can make this okay. This is pure darkness."
However, the Premier noted, we are not helpless in the face of darkness and encouraged Manitobans to take action and work together to protect the vulnerable. "We can offer comfort. We can offer support," he said.
That support, added Kinew, can be found in faith.
"I know that there are many people who will be thinking of The Book of Job tonight which asks us to grapple with the age-old question of. why do bad things happen to good people? When you think about a 2 1/2-month -old, it is impossible to imagine that there's anything that could justify what took place. The same could be said of every other victim in this terrible tragedy. And yet, faith may not provide us with an easy answer, it does provide us with the direction to be able to grapple with some of these difficult and intractable dilemmas.
And so I call on Manitobans, congregations, and spiritual gatherings across the province to pray for this family. To pray for the people of Carman. To pray for your fellow Manitobans."
Support, added the Premier, can also be found in community.
"I know there are signs today that, even in the midst of this darkness, that there is light in our province. That witnesses called for help. The people of the schools stepped up to have some tough conversations with children who are wondering where their classmates are. And that we had the first responders on the scene," he said. "I want to say thank you to all of the first responders, in this instance and each and every day, who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
It's been said that our province exists as a collective act of will, and today we are being summoned to call upon that will - to do something, to be there for one another during this time of need. A sacred bond was broken and yet, Manitobans collectively remain unbroken today. We see that in the first responders. We see that in the helpers who are there for the grieving today, and I know we will see it tonight when grandparents, parents, partners hug your loved ones a little bit tighter. Take this time to say, I love you.
We are one Manitoba. Nothing can break that," added the Premier. "We will remember that this is a good place where darkness will not win. So, in times like this, it's important that we remain united and work together for the collective good of our province."
Cathy Merrick, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, also offered condolences at the news conference.
"I'm very saddened with the news that we received in terms of what happened over the weekend. It's not our way as a people. It's not our way, our culture and our language when we talk about violence. Violence is something that we have learned as a people."
"I'm very heartbroken with the loss of our women and the loss of young ones. It's heartbreaking to speak to it," added the grandmother. "I have grandchildren, and I was thinking about them when I was sitting here and that we have to prevent these things from happening to our families. We need to be able to ensure that we are able to provide our relatives with what they need in their life in terms of the disparities that we encounter. It's sad that people are struggling."
"I'm sure the man loved his children. I'm sure that he's sorry that he had to pull them out of the vehicle, but he did something wrong and that's why we're here today, to speak to that wrongness that happened and that these children have lost their lives."
Merrick called on us to respect life.
"We only get one chance of at life. We have to respect it. We have to ensure that our relatives respect life, so they don't end up in the systems. So, we have a lot of responsibility as leaders, as mothers, as kokums (grandmothers) that we be responsible as to how we teach our children to be respectful."