RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)

Speakers acknowledge criticism during police and peace officer memorial services

Smoke speakers defended police officers against recent criticism

Annual ceremonies across Canada held Sunday to honour police and peace officers who died in the line of duty acknowledged challenges members have endured from the global pandemic, with some speakers also defending officers from the criticism and protests police have faced in recent months.

“Amidst the calls for defunding police, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, the calls for service continue to rise and law enforcement officers continue to give of themselves to protect our rights and freedoms, and respond to us in our time of need,” Markus Chambers, Winnipeg councillor and chair of the city’s police board, told an outdoor service for Sunday’s memorial in a message recorded last week.

At a service at British Columbia’s legislature Sunday, Abbotsford Chief Mike Serr took aim at a recent controversial mural in Victoria that contained an acronym officers have criticized as disrespectful.

“While some debate whether the acronym ACAB is appropriate on a city-sponsored mural, let me be clear. It is not,” Serr said. The acronym is commonly held to mean ”All Cops Are Bastards” or “All Cops Are Bad.”

“Our brave fallen heroes place themselves in harm’s way and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect others, regardless of their race, religion beliefs or values,” Serr added. ”It is what we do.”

National Police and Peace Officers Memorial Day typically sees large numbers of officers in their ceremonial uniforms march at their provincial legislatures and at Parliament Hill, where the names of officers who’ve died in the past year are added to memorial honour rolls.

But this year due to restrictions on the size of gatherings, services in most cases were limited to only a few officers and politicians, and the public was encouraged to view the ceremonies online rather than in-person.

Two new officers were recognized during the memorial services this year — Const. Heidi Stevenson, an RCMP officer who died during a gunman’s rampage that killed 22 people in a in Nova Scotia in April, and Const. Allan Poapst, a Manitoba Mountie who died in December after his vehicle was hit by a pickup truck that had crossed a median in snowy conditions.

However, officials explained during the ceremonies in Winnipeg and Ottawa that due to COVID-19 restrictions that prevented families of the fallen officers from attending, the tributes for Stevenson and Poapst would be completed in 2021 instead.

Demonstrations have been held across Canada to defund police following the police killing of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis, while an officer held a knee against his neck for more than eight minutes.

Protesters also pointed to fatal police shootings in the Toronto area, the falling death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet while officers were in her Toronto home and video recorded of arrests across Canada that critics allege demonstrate anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.

At the national ceremony in Ottawa, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair paid tribute to Stevenson and Poapst, but did not acknowledge the months of police criticism or the calls to de-fund their forces.

“I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians to thank the men and women of our police services and peace officers who across the country answered the call to duty and keep us safe,” said Blair, who was formerly Toronto’s chief of police.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney did not specifically address police criticism during a memorial service in Calgary, but noted the history of policing in the province was to protect Indigenous people in the 1870s from American “whisky traders and wolfers who were attacking and exploiting First Nation communities.”

“You continue that tradition of protecting the innocent from violence and exploitation,” Kenney said.

In Regina, Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers president Casey ward called it an “interesting year.”

“Despite the restrictions and precautions we must take to protect the health and safety of our members, and of the public, the memory and sacrifices of the fallen must be remembered and honoured,” he said.

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press

PoliceRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

Canadian Federation of University Women Nanaimo members Wendy Smiley, left, Karen Skarpnes, storyteller Margaret Murphy, CFUW-Nanaimo president Jeri Manley and club treasurer Kathy Torhjelm gather in recognition of the club’s 75th anniversary. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo chapter of Canadian Federation of University Women celebrates 75th anniversary

Group gathered via Zoom earlier this month to recall its history in the area

Police hope the public can help find Hailey St. Claire who has been missing since Tuesday. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo woman reported missing, police asking for public’s help

Hailey St. Claire, 28, was reported missing Tuesday

According to a Nanaimo RCMP press release, Jason Klughart, 28, was arrested at about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday at Port Place Shopping Centre. (News Bulletin file photo)
RCMP officer and security guard team up to detain suspect after chase in downtown Nanaimo

Jason Klughart arrested on outstanding warrant for possession of stolen property

Nanaimo RCMP and public health inspectors will be out looking for homes and businesses violating provincial health orders Saturday, Oct. 31. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP hope for Halloween safety and COVID-19 safety this weekend

Police and public health officers will be patrolling for households violating COVID-19 restrictions

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Pilot Kevin Maher participated in a flyover of a ceremony at the Cobble Hill cenotaph on Oct. 22 in a 1940 North American (Noorduyn) Harvard aircraft. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cobble Hill remembers lost military members with ceremony, flyover

Annual event commemorates those who died in non-combat roles

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read