Hundreds of Canadians gathered under overcast skies at the National War Memorial Thursday to honour two soldiers killed on home soil in separate attacks last October.
Governor General David Johnson praised the police officers, paramedics and ordinary citizens who responded with bravery to the violence that killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo last year.
“It’s been one year. We continue to grieve. We continue to heal,” Johnston said during the ceremony in Ottawa. “Our Parliament is a symbol of who we are. It too was attacked last October. Many of you valiantly rushed to defend it. Just as others of you rushed to the aide of the wounded here in Ottawa and in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
“Last October, many people said Canada would never be the same. But I don’t think Canada changed forever. Canadians are a caring, and a courageous people. This is who we are and that will not change.”
Thursday’s ceremony featured a 21-gun salute, a wreath-laying, and a fly-past of four CF-18s in the “missing man” formation.
WATCH: Stirring bagpipes as Canada remembers Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent
Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau were in attendance along with the families of Cirillo and Vincent.
In quiet moment of solidarity the outgoing and incoming prime ministers laid a wreath at the base of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, along with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance.
Following the public memorial the sister of Patrice Vincent, Louise, spoke with reporters.
“The ceremony was absolutely beautiful,” she said.”It was very prescient … it was dignified.”
Harper and Trudeau both issued statements offering condolences to the families of the fallen soldiers to mark the sombre anniversary.
“Let us also pay tribute to all the security forces, medical personnel and brave citizens who risked their safety to stop the attackers and help those injured,” said Harper.”It was inspiring to see how Canadians came together in the aftermath of these attacks.”
Trudeau also praised the men and women in the Canadian Forces.
“Our servicemen and women, who have put their lives on the line for their country, stand for the very best of what it means to be Canadian. We will live up to our sacred obligation to Canada’s men and women in uniform, our veterans, and their families.”
On Oct. 22, 2014 Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot Cirillo in the back as Cirillo stood guard at the National Memorial. Zehaf-Bibeau then stormed Centre Block on Parliament Hill before being killed in a shootout with security officials.
Former Sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers – who shot and killed the gunman in Centre Block – released a brief statement on his Twitter account Thursday praising the actions of those at Parliament Hill.
A subsequent review of security measures by the Ontario Provincial Police raised questions about the RCMP’s ability to protect Parliament Hill. The RCMP has been stretched by resource issues stemming from budget cuts imposed in 2012 by the Conservative government, the review found.
The Ottawa attack came just two days after Vincent was killed in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., struck by a vehicle driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, who had espoused jihadist views.
The federal Conservatives used these attacks to argue the necessity of a new anti-terror law, Bill C-51, although they were unable to say how it would have helped prevent either incident. Both Couture-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau were known to authorities before their attacks but were not considered active threats.
WATCH: Governor-General David Johnston speaks at memorial ceremony in Ottawa
The bill was widely criticized by citizens’ groups and civil liberties advocates as well as security experts, who argued it both violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and failed to address existing flaws in Canada’s security apparatus.
Justin Trudeau, who led the Liberal party to a resounding victory this week, voted for the bill. He’s said he’ll amend it but it isn’t clear how.
Years before his shooting spree Zehaf-Bibeau pleaded for a jail sentence and treatment for a crippling drug addiction. He got neither.
Separate dedications were held in Tuesday in Hamilton, Ont., Cirillo’s hometown, where a dog park was unveiled in honour of the fallen soldier and in Quebec where colleagues, friends and family gathered to remember Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.
A Global News investigation following Cirillo’s death prompted the federal government to rectify inequities facing reservists who get hurt or killed on the job.