Hundreds gather in Edmonton to remember fallen police and peace officers

Friends and families of fallen officers gathered Sunday at the Alberta Legislature for Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day. (Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Friends and families of fallen officers gathered Sunday at the Alberta Legislature for Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day. (Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Hundreds of people gathered to remember fallen officers and their families on Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day Sunday.

A parade of officers, bagpipers and a choir were part of the day's events at the Alberta Legislature.

Chris Young, president of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations, said the reading of the names of fallen officers was the most emotional moment of the day.

Young has a personal connection to a fallen officer: he knew Calgary Police Service Sgt. Andrew Harnett, who was killed on duty in December 2020.

"It's not just a member, it's a person," Young said.

"[Fallen officers] are people and their lives should be cherished and remembered."

He said being a police officer is "a profession that the whole family sacrifices for."

Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada
Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada

Lesley Lukawy understands that better than most people.

Her sister, Christine Diotte, was a constable in the RCMP investigating a collision on the Trans-Canada Highway near Banff when she was struck by a vehicle and killed in March 2002.

Lukawy said she thinks of all the things her sister has missed in life — like being an aunt to Lukawy's children.

"You're never the same," she said.

Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada
Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada

Now that their parents have died, Lukawy says coming to the event for fallen officers feels like being around family.

This year, in particular, was a privilege, she said.

"Today was actually very special because I was asked … to put the wreath for all the fallen family officers, which I thought was very nice."

A small group of police cadets also attended the ceremony.

Alora Cozza, a cadet sergeant with the Calgary Police Cadet Corps, said she thinks it's important for cadets to attend the event to learn about and honour fallen officers, especially since she and other cadets intend to pursue careers in the police force.

Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada
Sofiane Assous/Radio-Canada

"It's sad to see how many officers do get caught up in the line of duty," Cozza said.

"But it's also a very joyous day to remember their lives."

RCMP Sgt. Maj. Andrew Hobson was remembering his friend, Const. Christopher Worden.

Worden was shot and killed while trying to make an arrest in Hay River, Northwest Territories, in 2007.

Hobson said he wishes people could understand the risks and consequences police officers face, adding that the fallen officers "knew the choices, they knew the risks they were taking — both generally in this career and also in each day."

Earlier Sunday, inside the legislature, the provincial government unveiled a memorial bearing the names of 101 Alberta police and peace officers who have died in the line of duty since 1876, long before Alberta was a province.

The memorial wall is outside the office of the minister of justice and solicitor general.

In a statement, Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro called Sunday "a day to pause and honour the sacrifice" of the officers who have died in the line of duty.