RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)

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

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read