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N.S. health authority agrees to meet with Lionel Desmond's family, sister says


Published on June 19, 2017

Cassandra Desmond, left, and her sister Chantel Desmond are seen in Antigonish, N.S. on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Their brother, Lionel Desmond, a 33-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, took his own life after shooting his 52-year-old mother, his wife Shanna, 31, and their 10-year-daughter Aaliyah. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Nova Scotia's health authority has agreed to meet with Lionel Desmond's immediate family next week, almost six months after the former Canadian soldier fatally shot his mother, wife, daughter and himself in a horrific murder-suicide that attracted national attention.

One of Desmond's sisters, Chantel, confirmed today that the authority has scheduled a June 28 meeting at St. Martha's Hospital in Antigonish, N.S., which is a half-hour drive from Lionel Desmond's home in Upper Big Tracadie.

The meeting will be important to the family because it will focus on the authority's confidential review of how the province's health-care system dealt with Lionel Desmond before the killings on or about Jan. 3.

Chantel Desmond and her sister Cassandra Desmond recently joined a growing list of advocacy groups in calling for a broader fatality inquiry, saying they have yet to receive any useful information from public officials, including the Defence Department, Veterans Affairs Canada and the provincial government.

The twin sisters say they have been asking for records and reports to help them understand why their brother killed himself and his family in their rural Nova Scotia home, and they say they want an inquiry to help prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.

Lionel Desmond, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, took his own life after shooting his 52-year-old mother Brenda, his 31-year-old wife Shanna, and their 10-year-daughter Aaliyah.

Chantel Desmond has said the family's priority is to have the province's medical examiner, Dr. Matthew Bowes, order a judicial fatality inquiry, though Nova Scotia's justice minister also has the power to do so.

Bowes has said he, too, is waiting to see the review from the health authority, and he has also said he will take into consideration the views of immediate family members.

The Canadian Press