Few people can empathize with the families of the children shot to death at a Texas elementary school more than former Winnipegger Jimmy Greene.
The musician and former University of Manitoba jazz professor lost his daughter, Ana, in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, when she was just six years old.
News of the shooting deaths of 19 students and one teacher in Uvalde, Texas, filled Greene with “overwhelming sadness,” he said during an interview with CBC News Network on Wednesday.
“Because I know what these families are going to be dealing with over the next days, and weeks and months and years.”
Greene and his family had moved to Newtown four months before the shooting, after living in Winnipeg for three years.
In the aftermath, people from Winnipeg arrived to support them, including the family’s pastor and friends of his older son, who was inside the school at the time of the shooting and survived.
Right now, the families need their community to show up to support them, Greene said.
“It is really asking a lot of these families just to make it. Without a really supportive community effort to provide comfort, a listening ear, meals, I don’t know how we would have made it,” he said.
“These families in Texas are going to need the community to show up.”
After his daughter’s death, Greene became an outspoken advocate for limits on gun ownership in the U.S., including increased background checks for people buying weapons.
There have been 27 school shootings in the U.S. so far this year.
Greene said some politicians, including Connecticut senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, have put forward common-sense proposals.
But the issue of gun control is a highly polarized topic in U.S. politics, and unfortunately breaks down largely along partisan lines, he said.
“I am angry at the cowardice and the inaction of those congresspeople who will not stand up and say we must keep our communities safe.”
He hopes there will be enough momentum after the shooting in Texas to pass new legislation.
“We need sustained attention and hopefully that sustained attention turns into sustained pressure on those congresspeople and senators who need to act now.”
Nearly 10 years after losing his daughter, Greene says the pain never goes away.
“The difference 10 years later, I can speak for myself, is these feelings are more familiar so that I’m able to deal with them more effectively, and I pray that that is true for these families in Texas,” he said.
“That with support and with care, and sustained support and care … these families can make it.”
WATCH | Sandy Hook father says families in Uvalde, Texas, will need community support: