Ottawa shootings: Security improved after 2014 attack

by | Oct 22, 2015 | News

Tyler Bloomfield

There are subtle reminders of how Canada changed one year ago today.

A soldier stands on guard at the National War Memorial. (Photo/Tyler Bloomfield)

A soldier stands on guard at the National War Memorial. (Photo/Tyler Bloomfield)

It was in shadow of the National War Memorial near Parliament Hill in Ottawa that 24-year-old Canadian solider Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was killed while guarding the National War Memorial.

The reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Hamilton carrying an unloaded rifle was shot by gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who attacked the memorial and then continued on to the Centre Block of the Parliament building where he was shot 31 times and killed by Parliament security.

Cirillo — the father of a young son — died of his wounds despite the valiant efforts by passersby to keep him alive.

As a result of the attack changes have been made to security at the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill.

“Since then we have had the addition of two armed police officers from Ottawa police, and they are here for as long as we are here,” said Cpl. Shane Johnston, while standing post at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“It’s a visual deterrent,” he said. “It’s the fact that you can see the police, they’re there all the time, they’re wandering around, they’re guiding us up front, it’s a good thing to have.”

Increased security at Parliament Hill

Security efforts are more coordinated than ever, said Johnston. Police and the Canadian military are now working together to make the people of Ottawa feel safe.

“I’m pretty confident (in the security), there’s lots of us around, lots of security on the hill and I’m pretty sure we are prepared to deal with whatever comes our way,” said Ottawa Police Inspector Rick Keindel.

The new security presence is felt on the Hill, but there is still a sense of freedom that surrounds the structures.

Canada’s Parliament Hill is a tourist destination, and it has remained open and accepting to visitors.

“What’s nice about Canada is it’s so open and people aren’t as paranoid [as they are in the United States],” said Barry Pollack, an engineer from Oakland, Calif.,who visited the Parliament buildings. “It would be more distressing for me if it was all locked down and there were grim security guards running around.

“This is nice,” said Pollack. “I like to see it like this, I feel safe here.”

The nation’s capital is guarded by men and women who risk their lives to protect their country, a duty that Canadians are grateful for, said Quebec tourist Pierre Lemieux.

“They’re there to help us, [and] I think it’s something that all of Canada will remember,” said Lemieux.