Police officers and their supporters gathered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg Sunday to honour those lost in the line of duty.
The public ceremony, hosted by the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police, was part of Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day, an annual event to formally express appreciation for work officers do to keep communities safe.
Participants paid tribute to two police officers who died this year in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
“They are worthy of reflection and dialogue, and it is good to be here in person to remember them. We will not forget them,” said Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth, who also serves as the president of the MACP.
“This museum is a place of reflection. And really, that’s what the memorial is about is reflecting on the stories of those before us that gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
In July, Toronto police officer Jeffrey Northrup died in hospital after he was struck by a vehicle in the city hall parkade. Investigators called the incident an “intentional and deliberate act.”
The month prior, RCMP officer Shelby Patton died after being hit by a stolen truck during an attempted traffic stop in the town of Wolseley, Sask.
Not all sacrifices are made by those on the front lines, said Jeremy Cull with the Manitoba Police Association.
“I would also like to acknowledge our unsung heroes — our spouses, children, parents and siblings,” he said.
“Without our family’s unwavering support, we would not be able to shoulder the weight of the physical and emotional demands that come with serving the public.”
“A strong family like that is in our presence today,” Cull said, referring to the family of Const. Allan Poapst, who died while on duty two years ago.
The 49-year-old Manitoba RCMP officer died when his police vehicle was hit by a pickup truck on the Perimeter Highway in December of 2019.
“You are in our thoughts, and your strength is felt by everybody,” Cull said.
Speakers at the memorial acknowledged that police officers have been under increased scrutiny over the last several years.
“As we reflect on these challenges, it is imperative that we reflect on the police and peace officers who confronted the challenges of their time. That we honour those who came before us and gave their lives to keep peace and order in our communities,” Smyth said.
More than 20 years ago, the federal government declared the last Sunday in September as Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day.
Over the last two years, local services have been interrupted because of COVID-19.
This year, the Winnipeg service is being held alongside a national memorial in Ottawa.
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