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Former Innisfail manager’s family slain in Nova Scotia massacre

Tammy Oliver-McCurdie was town’s former FCSS manager
Nova Scotia murder victims WEB
Three family members of former Innisfailian Tammy Oliver-McCurdie were brutally slain last weekend in Nova Scotia. From left to right are niece Emily Tuck, 17, younger sister Jolene Oliver, 39, and 44-year-old brother-in-law Aaron (Friar) Tuck. Facebook photo

INNISFAIL – For hours and hours on Sunday all Tammy Oliver-McCurdie and her mother could do was wait for the call.

It came at around supper time. She was told her family in Nova Scotia were all dead, murdered by a crazed gunman, who police believe was 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, a well-known denturist.

The gunman’s unspeakable 12-hour rampage ultimately took the lives of at least 19 citizens, including an elementary school teacher, two health-care workers and an RCMP officer. It is being called the most horrific gun slaying incident in Canadian history.

Most horribly of all for Oliver-McCurdie, the gunman claimed her three family members: her younger 39-year-old sister Jolene Oliver, 17-year-old niece Emily Tuck and 44-year-old brother-in- law Aaron (Friar) Tuck.

“I miss all of them so much my heart breaks and my tears just don’t seem to be drying up yet,” said Oliver-McCurdie, a Red Deer resident and business owner, and former manager of Innisfail’s Family and Community Support Services office. I am glad they died together as a family, as I know in the worst of situations it is all my sister would of wanted."

Oliver-McCurdie reached out to The Albertan Sunday afternoon after hearing the news earlier in the day that there had been a horrific massacre in Portapique, N.S., a tiny community of about 100 residents about 40 kilometres west of Truro. She had her family there and was desperate to reach them.

Oliver-McCurdie repeatedly called RCMP detachments in Nova Scotia but could not have their well-being verified. She connected with friends and other family members by phone and social media. No one had talked to Jolene, Emily or Aaron that day.

“It is just frustrating. We are getting zero information,” she told The Albertan Sunday afternoon, adding it was out of character for her sister not to return urgent repeated texts or calls. “She talked to my mom daily. For Jolene not to answer a text or social media message because we have been sending messages all day, and for her 17-year-old daughter not being on social media messaging, text messaging her boyfriend…it is not like their behaviour whatsoever.

“They are right in that area where they have blocked everything off. I haven’t heard from my sister,” said Oliver- McCurdie, adding her Nova Scotia family members were acreage neighbours with Wortman. “My mom tried to get a hold of (Jolene) this morning and started calling the RCMP and they can’t give us any answers, and this has been seven or eight hours. It is tortuous.

“I don’t know if my sister is dead or alive or missing,” she added. “And my brother-in-law Aaron knows the guy who is the shooter. He and the shooter had confrontations before.”

Tammy’s mother Bonnie Oliver also noted the animosity between Wortman and Aaron, a fact underscored Sunday by a family friend who she identified as Jason.

“Jason was crying when he was talking to me today, Jason is Aaron’s best friend and said, ‘I think last night they probably had another one of those heated arguments and it’s gone real sideways now. I’m afraid something really bad has happened to all of them,”’ said Bonnie.

And then in the early evening on Sunday the worst news imaginable came. All three of her family members were dead. She was told their bodies could not be recovered from a crime scene until Tuesday. Nevertheless, there was work to do for her family.

“My sister's family is all in Alberta and we need to hold a funeral there in Nova Scotia and one in Alberta for family. They were struggling and not set up financially and trying not to burden my parents,” said Oliver-McCurdie, whose own business - Lockdown Escape Rooms in Red Deer – is experiencing serious financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 crisis. “I am probably losing my family business as we are on forced lockdown and unsure on how we will travel and facilitate two funerals as my sister's family resides in Alberta but the bodies are there.”

A GoFundMe page has been created to support the heartbroken and financially challenged family.

And finally, Oliver-McCurdie released a moving recent video of her niece Emily playing the fiddle for the Ultimate Online Nova Scotia Kitchen Party that was set up to safely gather citizens and have fun during the COVID-19 crisis.

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