Reporter’s notebook: Looking back at the Montreal cop murders
I remember the day Montreal police constable Odette Pinard was killed.
It was Monday, Nov. 27, 1995. I remember there was a snowstorm and the newsroom scrambled to cover it.
At the time, I was working as an editorial assistant at the CBC, just starting my career.
A few months later, another Montreal Urban Community Police constable, André Lalonde was killed. This murder was on the West Island of Montreal, not far from where I grew up.
Twenty years later — incredibly — no one has ever been brought to justice for either murder.
For my entire career, I’ve wondered about the families of the two officers.
What did they go through on that day? What have they been told? How painful is it knowing the killers have never been caught?
There are no developments this week. There hasn’t been an arrest. There are no new tips.
But one of the anniversaries has just passed again and I wanted to reach out.
Calling someone in a case like this, as a journalist, isn’t easy. You’re asking the person if they have time to sit down and dredge up horrible memories.
But I was shocked by the reaction from both families.
There was reticence. They were nervous. Absolutely. But they were also appreciative.
It was a lot like November 11, the day we pause to remember the sacrifice of soldiers. Instead, in this case, it’s the sacrifice of police officers.
We sat down with Patrick Lalonde in downtown Ottawa. He talked about how everyone loved his father. Growing up, he’d find his buddies confiding in his dad, seeking advice from a man they respected and trusted.
Sometimes people tell him he’s lucky to have had 22 years with his father, but he shrugs it off. There have been too many important things in his life since. His dad wasn’t there for any of it.
We met the Pinards in their home in Quebec City. They still live in the home where they raised their daughter, Odette.
One thing that’s changed in the neighbourhood is the name of the street behind them. A few years ago, the city renamed it Rue Odette Pinard.
The Pinards couldn’t have been nicer. They shared their story with laughter and tears. It was emotional for all of us.
I asked if having a street named after their daughter wasn’t a reminder of something painful — an honour you’d rather not have. They disagreed. Yvon Pinard, her father, said it meant Odette was a part of his life… every day.
I’ll never forget a moment when we were leaving. Yvon came to the window of our vehicle to make sure we knew how to get back to the highway.
With a big smile, overflowing with pride, he told us “you have to go up Odette.”
There are some weeks were I consider myself incredibly lucky to do what I do.
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