BY SARAH PERKINS
In the wake of a tragedy, it is often all too easy to turn inwards. Grief is often a private affair, and for many, it can be difficult to see past the current hard times to look towards future outlets for individual and community healing.
However, for Angus Wilson–Fixed operations manager at CARSTAR Sydney, Nova Scotia–the way forward through tragedy was clear, it was a matter of doing everything he could for the Tuck family and most importantly, for Emily.
Recently, Bodyworx Professional magazine spoke with Angus Wilson over the phone to hear about his efforts to finish the reconstruction project of Aaron Tuck’s 1977 Ford Pinto received following the family’s unfortunate passing in Nova Scotia’s 2020 mass shooting.
The mass shooting in question occurred on April 18, 2020, in which Jolene Oliver (40), Aaron Tuck (45) and Emily Tuck (17) were murdered at their isolated acreage home in Portapique, Nova Scotia following a two-day attack by a lone gunman. The gunman, Gabriel Wortman, committed multiple shootings, fires, and killed a total of 19 other individuals before being shot by RCMP 92 km away from the initial crime scene.
In comments made to CBC on April 20, 2020, Jolene’s sister, Tammy Oliver-McCurdie, reported that “no matter how hard it was, [the Tuck family] always stayed together.” Oliver-McCurdie also described how Aaron (a mechanic) and his daughter Emily shared a love for tinkering with cars, with Emily considering the possibility of becoming a mechanic herself following high school.
With this shared love of cars, it had been Aaron’s intention of fixing up his 1977 Ford Pinto for Emily’s eighteenth birthday–a date which sadly the Tuck family did not get to see. And it was this catalyst, the unfinished, ungifted 1977 Ford Pinto, that initially brought Angus Wilson to what was not only the continuation of a restoration project, but a community preservation project as well.
When speaking to Bodyworx Professional, Wilson noted that most of the credit for the restoration project should go to Jason Gillis, a past employee of Wilson’s, and a close friend of the Tuck family who inherited Emily’s Pinto through the Tuck’s estate following their deaths. For three years, Gillis worked on making necessary repairs before reaching out to CARSTAR Sydney for assistance. The goal was to complete Emily’s Pinto in time for the Aaron and Jolene Memorial Car show, which was recently held at Plaza Ford on August 19 in Sydney.
Wilson further noted that due to an injury, Gillis had been unable to work, and so adopting the majority of tasks needed for fixing Emily’s Pinto had been a huge private undertaking. If Gillis had not received Emily’s Pinto through the Tuck’s estate, Wilson also commented that he would have worked on getting a hold of it from the get-go and finishing it himself. While he didn’t know the Tuck family on an intimate level, he told Bodyworx Professional that he and Aaron Tuck were a part of a Facebook group together for classic Ford Pintos, and so he felt a community connection to the family and their story.
As noted by CARSTARS’s report on the event, “restoring a vehicle is a labour of love, a tribute that requires dedication, expertise, and ample resources.”
In taking over restoring Emily’s Pinto from Gillis’s initial act of dedication and love for his friends, Wilson stressed to Bodyworx Professional that he wasn’t doing anything special, he “just stepped up” as anyone should have done to help their employees and those in their community.
With a dedicated team of technicians, Wilson reached out to CARSTAR Corporate, BASF and 3M as well as other local partners to help with the final finishing touches to Emily’s Pinto that Gillis was unable to complete himself. Wilson credited CARSTAR corporate for contributing cash donations to help fund the final aspects of the project. BASF and 3M also contributed time and resources to the restoration process such as assisting with seam sealing, body filling and paint donations. Besides his brief personal connection to the Tuck family, Wilson told Bodyworx Professional, that he wanted to speak back to tragedy in a positive way, to offer something to a grieving community and most importantly, to do something for Emily who would not have the opportunity to capitalize on the opportunities of her youth.
In this way, Wilson outlines what he refers to as the “family mindset of the automotive industry.” For Wilson, those in the automotive industry are part of a longstanding history of looking out for one another, and this also extends to a cultural mindset within Eastern Canada which is popularly based on maintaining strong community bonds.
As CARSTARS’s report on the event states, ultimately, “this project represents more than just a restored car; it encapsulates the essence of CARSTAR Sydney’s community.” It is a gesture of healing.
“The response to this tragedy is not just about the car–it’s about the heart behind it, the compassion that fueled it, and the hope it ignites.”
Emily’s Pinto was successfully finished with a fresh coat of orange paint in time for the Aaron and Jolene Memorial Car show and featured front and centre alongside other antique cars.
While the Tuck family may be gone–and will forever be missed by their family, friends and all those who had the privilege of knowing them–in this small but important way, they live on through the joining efforts of completing Emily’s Pinto.
Angus Wilson and his team at CARSTAR Sydney, following in the initial footsteps of Jason Gillis, thus remind that even in the wake of tragedy, there is always a way forward. It is, as Wilson says, a matter of standing up and stepping up for those around you, turning not inwards, but instead turning up and asking what can be done to help.