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“Compassionate, Caring, Outgoing, Welcoming”

Vigil held on Gottingen Street following murder of Raymond Taavel

by Steve Caines

“Compassionate, Caring, Outgoing, Welcoming”
“Compassionate, Caring, Outgoing, Welcoming”
“Compassionate, Caring, Outgoing, Welcoming”
“Compassionate, Caring, Outgoing, Welcoming”

At least 300 people gathered on Gottingen Street in Halifax today at 7pm to mourn the passing of Raymond Taavel, local community activist. Taavel was killed this morning at approx. 3a.m., outside Menz and Mollyz Bar, defending a friend during a physical attack.

Taavel was a prominent and respected Haligonian activist for LBGT rights. He was a long time editor of Wayves newspaper, and was co-chair of Halifax Pride events. He worked for Halifax’s Shambhala Sun Magazine for 13 years, and was a lead organizer with Fair Vote Nova Scotia, among his many other local community efforts.

A dozen people addressed the crowd on Gottingen Street, paying respects to Taavel with personal memories, poetry and song. At the vigil, a pride flag was unfurled across the street, and traffic was shut down on the street for over an hour.

Taavel was remembered at the vigil as a “compassionate, caring, outgoing and welcoming” individual who was supportive of his friends.  Many of Taavel’s long time friends spoke at the event, relating personal stories of how they met him and how he had affected their lives. One friend stated that he was a calming voice and the type of person that you could never really stay angry with.  “He was a person that put you in a good mood and made you feel happy ever time you saw him,” said another friend and co-worker.

Halifax Regional Police arrested a suspect shortly after the death; CBC has reported that the suspect is a psychiatric patient from the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, who had been released unsupervised and had failed to return to the hospital.

Taavel had been the victim of a previous attack in May 2010, writing about this in Wayves.

Raymond Taavel was a sustaining member of the Halifax Media Co-op. Only a few months ago he was interviewed for two stories posted on this site, related to some of his volunteer work and activism. He will be sorely missed in the Halifax community.

"It’s tempting in this day and age of legislated liberties to think that a personal or collective vigilance is no longer required. It’s easy to lull ourselves into complacency, thinking there’s nothing more left to fight for, or nothing more to achieve. Fighting back comes in many forms: reaching out, building bridges, educating and, if need be, defending ourselves from physical harm."

-- Raymond Taavel, May 2010

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