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A woman pays her respects at a makeshift memorial in Portapique, N.S., on April 22, 2020.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The independent public inquiry into the mass shooting in Nova Scotia that claimed 22 lives last spring is now accepting applications from potential participants.

The commission of inquiry, formally known as the Mass Casualty Commission, issued a statement Wednesday saying its team has moved into new offices in Halifax and Truro, N.S.

The statement says those applying for standing can also seek funding, but they must first demonstrate a “direct and substantial interest” in the commission’s mandate.

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Applications can be filled out on the commission’s website and must be submitted for approval no later than April 6.

Some people have already been granted permission to participate, including surviving victims and the families of the victims, as well as the federal and provincial governments.

Those granted standing can participate on their own behalf, or they can be represented by a lawyer or a representative who is not a lawyer, subject to the commission’s approval.

The federal-provincial inquiry will investigate the causes, context and circumstances that led to the shootings and then draft recommendations to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again. The inquiry is essentially a fact-finding process that will not lay blame or determine criminal or civil liability.

The commission’s updated website includes a short video that features interviews with the three commissioners leading the inquiry. In the video, commissioner Michael MacDonald – the former chief justice of Nova Scotia – explains the main tasks for the inquiry.

“A team has been assembled that will get to the bottom of this,” MacDonald says.

“The team will bring to bear expertise and experience to find out what happened in those horrible 13 hours – frame by frame, hour by hour – and to find out why it happened and how it will be prevented in the future.”

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The RCMP have confirmed that on the night of April 18, 2020, a killer disguised as a Mountie set fire to several homes and killed 13 people in Portapique before evading police later that night while driving a car that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser.

The next morning, he resumed killing people he knew and others at random before he was fatally shot by a Mountie at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., just north of Halifax.

The killer drove more than 100 kilometres during the 13 hours he was at large.

Commissioner Kim Stanton, former legal director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, also appears in the video.

“All three of us and all of the people we’ve been working with so far are absolutely committed to doing our very best to try to shine some light into the dark corners,” she said, adding that the inquiry will “unearth the answers to some of the questions that (the victims’ families) must have and that must be adding to their pain and grief.”

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