Const. Heidi Stevenson, killed during N.S. mass shooting, honoured at RCMP memorial

RCMP members escort the hearse at a regimental memorial service for Const. Heidi Stevenson, killed in the line of duty during the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia.  (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)
RCMP members escort the hearse at a regimental memorial service for Const. Heidi Stevenson, killed in the line of duty during the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Hundreds of Mounties, law enforcement officers and first responders from across Canada gathered in Cole Harbour, N.S., Wednesday to pay tribute to Const. Heidi Stevenson, who was killed in the line of duty on during the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting.

The RCMP was not able to hold a regimental funeral following Stevenson's death due to COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time, and a private family funeral was held instead.

The service was not open to the public, but people were encouraged to gather along the procession route of uniformed officers on Forest Hills Parkway prior to the service. Members of the RCMP, military, police and emergency services marched from St. Vincent de Paul Church to Cole Harbour Place.

Cole Harbour resident Sherry McBride said her son is a member of the Mounties and she felt it was crucial to show her support in person along the procession route.

Watch the full procession and service:

"Because of everything we've been through, with COVID, with Portapique, with the helicopter crash, the Snowbirds, it's just been so much for all of Nova Scotia," McBride said tearfully.

"We have to be here … to show our respect for Heidi, to show respect for RCMP, and any police force, what they face on a day-to-day basis."

Another resident, Donna Peers, echoed the sentiment.

"We'd never gone through anything like that, hope we never do again, God willing," Peers said.

She added that despite the fact that more than two years have passed since Stevenson was killed, it was important to honour the work she and other RCMP members did during the shooting.

During the service, Stevenson's friends addressed those assembled and paid tribute to her memory. Stevenson grew up in Antigonish, N.S., and graduated from Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., with a bachelor of science. She was just 49 when she died.

Steve Lawrence/CBC
Steve Lawrence/CBC

Childhood friend Claire McIntyre said Stevenson was a force from the moment she met her.

McIntyre said she was initially surprised at Stevenson's decision to join the RCMP, but she always had an intuitive sense of right and wrong.

"She did what was right, even if it wasn't the popular choice," McIntyre said.

Another childhood friend, Angela McKnight, recalled how Stevenson met the love of her life, her husband Dean, while working as a high school liaison officer in Cole Harbour. They had two children, Connor and Ava, who also attended today's ceremony.

"I know no better, no greater, no tougher, more determined woman than her," said McKnight through tears.

Nova Scotia RCMP/Twitter
Nova Scotia RCMP/Twitter

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki also addressed the service and said Stevenson made an unforgettable impact on the lives of many.

During her 23 years with the RCMP, Stevenson took part in the Musical Ride and worked as a drug recognition expert and in communications and community policing.

"I've always believed that a career in policing is a calling. Heidi answered that call and tragically paid the ultimate price," Lucki said.

"Heidi will be remembered for her courage and strength of character. We will always be grateful for her heroism that day. For the bravery she demonstrated and for the actions, she took to protect the community she cared so deeply."

Stevenson was one of 22 people killed in the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history. She was on duty the morning of April 19, 2020, in the Shubenacadie area when a gunman driving a replica RCMP cruiser crashed his vehicle into her patrol car.

An investigation revealed the 49-year-old constable exchanged gunfire with the suspect, and it appears fragments from one of her bullets struck him on the side of the head.