HALIFAX – “It was a long time of being dead silent and under tables and away from windows and on the floor. I mean it’s been terrifying.”
Those are the words of outgoing MP Megan Leslie remembering being barricaded in a room as shoots rang through the halls of Parliament Hill one year ago Thursday.
Outside, a gunman had already shot and killed ceremonial guard Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial before being shot to death himself in a hail of gunfire in the halls of Centre Block.
One year later, Leslie recalls those tense and emotional events.
“We didn’t know what was happening for hours and hours. Every fifteen minutes we would here a bang, and it could be anything. A garbage can falling over. We’d hear a bang and we’d have to get down and go under the table. That cycle was unrelenting,” Leslie told Global News.
Leslie says resuming a normal life in the days, weeks and months afterward wasn’t easy.
“I didn’t know what was happening to me. I didn’t know why I would spontaneously burst into tears all day.”
“I wanted to go to yoga to relax so I biked across the Commons and just that action of getting my heart rate up made me…I was right back there at the shooting at it felt the same.”
Leslie admits she sought out talk therapy in wake of the attacks. She says the past year has been difficult for her and fellow MP’s.
She recalls being on edge when a loud noise would ring through the halls of Parliament. It would usually would end up being construction, but the memories of that day were hard to escape.
“The bullet holes are still there. I have not been able to look at them,” Leslie said.
Despite the traumatic experience, Leslie says reflecting back one year later, she can take solace in the fact the country and the workers on Parliament Hill stood tall in the wake of such tragedy.
“What I am about to say is going to sound strange,” Leslie said, hesitating.
“I don’t think it really did change very much. I mean yes we have different security procedures in place, but the House of Commons belongs to us. Parliament belongs to us.”