Under Threat – The Role of Facebook in Times of Uncertainty

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

On October 20, 2014, a supporter of ISIL deliberately targeted two Canadian soldiers in uniform in Quebec killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and injuring one other.

Two Days later on October 22, 2014 another gunman shot and killed a uniformed Cpl Nathan Cirillo while he was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. The gunman then stormed Parliament before he was killed by security.

These two incidents came on the heels of an audio recording released by ISIS specifically targeting western nations including Canada. (http://globalnews.ca/news/1575601/france-is-has-threatened-coalition-civilians/)  What made October 22 a difficult day for military families was the pandemonium, lack of information on the news as well as mis-information on the news. How many gunmen were there? Were they specifically targeting soldiers? Were our spouses at risk? What would happen tomorrow? As a culture we are pretty adept at weathering and coping with deployed spouses but this was different. This was at home.

Our local military family Facebook support site proved to be a very useful resource on this day. The site is typically a positive environment where people posted to Ottawa gather to ask questions and meet new friends. On this day the buildings downtown were in lock-down while the authorities attempted to determine how many gunmen there were and who they were targeting. Many of our spouses wear their uniforms to work making them easy to identify.

Sharing of information proved invaluable. Some of the spouses on the site had husbands who had access to phones while others did not. All the while, the media spoke of multiple gunmen with unknown whereabouts. The people on our site rallied around each other and reassured each other with real information. Offers were made to pick up children from childcare as many of our spouses do not have family support and have only been in the community for a short time.

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

That day was terrible and the loss of two young soldiers is tragic. Many civilians were also affected by that day, as the downtown core turned into a ghost town while people waited. I can only imagine how the workers in the Parliament buildings managed to get through such a horrifying experience.

Where were you during that day? Did you use social media to help you through it?

One thought on “Under Threat – The Role of Facebook in Times of Uncertainty

  1. Beth, I am so happy your resource for military families was able to provide comfort during that time. Even though I was shaken while watching the events unfold, I never forget that there are people overseas and in North America that face these kinds of dangers on a regular basis, and that there spouses are often left without many answers. Your resource is one of the reasons that social media is something of a blessing; connecting people and creating a system of support for those who need it most.

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