Two funerals this week for Nova Scotia family members who died in murder-suicide

The Canadian Press
Published on January 9, 2017

A police vehicle is parked outside a residence in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. The funeral for a mother and young daughter shot dead in a murder-suicide in Nova Scotia will be held Thursday, a day after the service for their killer and his mother. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

TRACADIE, N.S. — The funeral for a mother and young daughter shot dead in a murder-suicide in Nova Scotia will be held Thursday, a day after the service for their killer and his mother.

Lionel Desmond shot his wife Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and his mother Brenda before turning the gun on himself in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., according to RCMP. The four bodies were discovered last Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a funeral service will be held for Lionel and Brenda Desmond at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's Church in Tracadie.

The funeral for Shanna and Aaliyah Desmond will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Monsignor Donnelly Hall in Tracadie.

Aaliyah's obituary said she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian and had a beautiful smile that "would light up any room as soon as she entered it."

"She loved horseback riding, skating, singing and spending time with her many cousins," said an obituary posted on an Antigonish funeral home website.

Her mother Shanna, 31, had recently started working as a nurse at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish after graduating from St. Francis Xavier University.

"Shanna loved to travel, dance and sing," her obituary said. "She was a completely loving, caring and honest person. She loved to try different foods and experience different cultures."

Family members have said Lionel Desmond, 33, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a tour in Afghanistan in 2007, and had received treatment from the military.

His obituary said he "succumbed to the tortures of PTSD" relating to his service in Afghanistan. It described him as having a friendly demeanour and a contagious smile.

"His can-do attitude was evident while serving his unit and community. He will be remembered as an amazing son, brother, father, husband, nephew, cousin and grandson," it said.

The obituary for Brenda Desmond described her as an avid bingo player who made friends wherever she played.

"(She was) well-known for her smile, laughter, humour, and strong love for everyone with whom she crossed paths," an obituary said of the 52-year-old woman.

The federal government has confirmed it will pay for the funerals of the four people.

An online fundraising campaign to help pay for expenses had raised more than $23,000 by Monday morning.

The Canadian Press