Hundreds of community and law enforcement members gathered Sunday afternoon in Victoria to pay respects to fallen officers.
The British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial Service 2023 event was held outside of the BC Legislature in Victoria.
The memorial honours 130 law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving B.C. communities, including Burnaby RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang, who was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 18, 2022. She was attending a homeless campsite with park workers when she was fatally stabbed.
“(This event) is perhaps the most important weekend of the year for officers in the country and the province,” Fiona Wilson said, Vancouver police’s investigation division deputy chief and B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police’s vice president.
“We come together to acknowledge and remember the ultimate sacrifice that some of our members have made while serving their communities.”
Wilson said the recent death of Const. Rick O’Brien feels like losing a “member of the family.”
“I think one of the most difficult things for police officers to face in our careers is the loss of a colleague. We are like a family — brothers and sisters,” she said.
“Being just a year out from the murder of Shaelyn Yang, and of course Const. O’Brien last week, it is a difficult time for police in this country. We are all mourning their loss.”
A number of other events are being held in conjunction with the memorial service.
The ninth annual BCLEM Ride to Remember is a three-day event that started in Abbotsford on Thursday and ended in Victoria. Riders cycled more than 385 kilometres in three days finishing at the BC Legislature on Saturday.
The fifth annual BCLEM Run to Remember also ran from Thursday to Saturday. Runners started in Abbotsford on Thursday and ended in Victoria on Saturday.
On Friday the tenth annual BCLEW Golf Tournament was helped at the Bear Mountain Golf Club in Victoria.
The B.C. event coincides with the National Police and Peace Officers’ memorial held in Ottawa.
The BC Law Enforcement Memorial (BCLEM) committee has decided all future memorial service events will be permanently held in Victoria.
The event comes just days after Const. Rick O’Brien was fatally shot in Coquitlam while on duty. He was part of a RCMP team conducting a search warrant at a home in relation to a drug investigation. Homicide investigators announced that 25-year-old Nicholas Bellemare has been charged with first-degree murder in relation to the fatal shooting.
More to come …