Vitaly Savin was a prominent member of Edmonton's Russian community — and the community came out in droves to remember the 55-year-old's life.
The man was shot and killed by an Edmonton police officer on March 9. On Saturday, nine days after his death, friends and family gathered at St. Mary's Orthodox Parish in Nisku to remember him.
"It's a big shock for everybody," Irina Mierzewski, the vice-president of the Russian-Canadian Association of Alberta, said after the funeral. "We knew Vitaly, like through different events in our community.
"Whatever was happening in the community, he would always be a part of it."
Savin was killed after a police officer pulled his vehicle over, suspecting the driver was impaired.
When the officer pulled Savin's vehicle over, both got out of their cars. There was a confrontation, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team said. Sources told CBC News Savin came at the officer with a knife.
As the investigation continues, friends and family of Savin remember him.
Svetlana Timofeeva, Savin's widow, remembered him as a caring person.
"He always supported me, and I never really was afraid of anything in the world, being next to him," Timofeeva said, via Mierzewski's translation.
"It's very hard for me."
Savin moved to Edmonton nine years ago and quickly made a lot of friends in the city — both Russian and Canadian, his widow said. Sergey Timoshchenko was one of those friends.
"It's not like a regular loss," he said. "People will come to sit together at the same table, but his spot will be empty."
A crowdfunding page Timoshchenko started had raised more than $11,000 in six days at the time of publication. He said the money has covered the funeral costs, which is one less worry for Savin's family.
Though some of Savin's family, including his mother, couldn't make it to Canada in time for Savin's funeral, Mierzewski said family in Russia are honouring Savin in their own way.
But for Timoshchenko, the amount of people remembering Savin and supporting his family both in Canada and in Russia shows what kind of person he was.
"It's not how much people are applauding when you're alive." he said, "It's how many people are following you to say their last goodbye."