Krysta Erickson lives in an isolated Hamlet of Arviat, reachable only by plane or boat.
3,000-person Arviat, where Erickson lives with her three children and husband Alan, an RCMP constable, there’s one restaurant, four schools and what she calls a record-breaking 36 days of blizzards this past winter.
But she keeps in touch with other spouses of RCMP officers through their Facebook page. That closely knit digital community was dealt a body blow last week, when three officers were shot to death in Moncton.
“We were all devastated that our worst nightmare had come true,” says Erickson. Unable to pay her respects in person, she helped to co-create a t-shirt fundraiser to support the families of the fallen three – Const. Dave Ross, Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, and Const. Douglas James Larche.
The t-shirt, available as a v-neck for women and a crew neck for men, has “Red Serge Proud” written in white script on the front, with a motto on the back that Erickson says she and her friends created by accident: It reads, “Together we are fierce. Together we are strong. Together we stand.”
While the campaign is listed as a verified charity by t-shirt company Teespring, the RCMP are still verifying its legitimacy.
Posted on the official RCMP memorial fund page is an alert reminding the public to “be wary of fraud scams and those hoping to profit from people’s generosity at this time.”
Erickson says the charity’s organizers will receive about $10 back for every $20 shirt sold, with the profits divided equally among the three families of the deceased.
Erickson says they originally set out sell about 50 shirts, hoping to create something they would buy themselves and maybe purchase for their families. But since listing the shirts online on June 8, they’ve sold more than 4,000.
Warning others of fraudulent t-shirt campaigns, Erickson says people who wish to donate should donate to the memorial fund set up by the RCMP by cheque or online donation, to the Spouses of the RCMP RBC tragedy fund or by buying one of their t-shirts.
“The group’s intention is to be somewhere we can talk and be amongst friends and share the trials and struggles of being an RCMP family,” says Erickson.
And recent publicity has brought around 150 new people on board to share their stories.
“It’s not common practice to approach people you don’t know to thank them,” Erickson said.”But now I’ve been overwhelmed with messages of support.”
These red messages of support have travelled across Canada.
Employees at the Tim Horton’s at Ottawa’s Montfort Hospital have decided to don red caps.
“When people ask us why we wear the hats, we just respond that we’re supporting the RCMP,” says Nathalie Dussiaume, who has a friend in the RCMP, saw the Wear Red Facebook page and bought her seven employees the hats to wear.
Principal Heather White Gerhardt of Birchmount School, located in the area of lockdown during the Moncton shootings, says the school does not have an official event but says majority of the staff and students are wearing red.
“Nowadays they get faster information from Facebook. That’s really what the source of information was. We only got information [of the event] by the end of the day yesterday [Monday] and by then it was too late,” says Principal White Gerhardt.
Erickson says many have been touched by this event whether they have a connection to the RCMP or not.
“Not only have we lost three police officers, we lost three fathers, too.”