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Cassidy Bernard’s mother watches as her daughter’s alleged killer appears in court

Mona Bernard, Cassidy Bernard's mother, was surrounded by an extensive network of supporters as she waited for the appearance of her daughter's alleged killer, Dwight Austin Isadore.
Mona Bernard, Cassidy Bernard's mother, was surrounded by an extensive network of supporters as she waited for the appearance of her daughter's alleged killer, Dwight Austin Isadore. - Aaron Beswick
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. —

Mona Bernard watched calmly as the man accused of murdering her daughter was led by sheriffs into Port Hawkesbury provincial court on Tuesday morning.

Wearing a blue hoodie and jeans, Dwight Austin Isadore pushed his long hair back as he waited for Judge Richard MacKinnon to address him.

He showed the gallery more than his back just once, turning to smile and nod at the lone occupant on the defendant’s side of the courtroom.

Four sheriffs stood with hands on their vests in the aisle between him and the 20 family and friends of Cassidy Bernard who surrounded Mona in their own hoodies emblazoned with her

Dwight Austin Isadore. - Facebook
Dwight Austin Isadore. - Facebook

daughter’s smiling photo.

They held their peace.

As this drama unfolded in Port Hawkesbury, another timed for security’s sake was happening 50 kilometres away in Bernard’s small First Nation community of We’koqma’q. The RCMP announced the laying of a second-degree murder charge against Isadore, Bernard’s former boyfriend, and two counts of unlawful abandonment for allegedly leaving her twin infant daughters alone with their dead mother.

“We are very pleased to share this outcome with Cassidy’s family. This is what we have been working towards,” Sgt. Glenn Bovie, acting officer in charge of the RCMP major crimes unit told the even larger crowd of media and community members.

“Our hope is that today is a step forward in the healing process for the family and the entire community.”

Mona found her daughter dead in the latter’s home on Oct. 24, 2018.

The long wait for answers in what up to now the RCMP have referred to as a “suspicious death” has spawned a protest movement raising awareness about missing and murdered aboriginal women through red dresses hung in windows across Cape Breton and northern Nova Scotia.

Last November, over 1,000 people marched across the Canso Causeway demanding answers.

The small community’s chief and council took the unusual step of offering up a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

For all the drama that led to Tuesday’s announcement, the court appearance was brief.

Judge MacKinnon told Isadore of the charges and then turned to the tedious process of setting another court date for his return, settling on Dec. 16.

As Isadore was led out by sheriffs, the courtroom’s hush was broken.

“You’re a (expletive) murderer,” hollered a young woman.

“You’re gonna get what’s coming to you, you little punk,” yelled a young man.

As the group filed out moments later, Mona turned and apologized to the two RCMP officers for the outburst from her supporters.

“That’s all right, we understand,” one could be heard to respond.

Outside, Mona got a lot of hugs.

“It was hard to live day by day,” said Mona, who in her 50s is now raising Cassidy’s toddlers.

“But I knew, I knew this day would come.”

This day isn’t an end for Mona or We’koqma’q.

It is the beginning of a long court process that will determine if Isadore is guilty of killing Bernard and abandoning the twins with their dead mother.

A process that doesn’t come with certainty of a conviction and will see Bernard reliving her daughter’s death over and over again.

“We have to do it,” said Mona, when asked about the court process.

“We have to stick together for my daughters and granddaughters so we can all feel safe.”

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