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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The last forum before the election on Saturday focused on health care.
Boundary-Similkameen candidates talk health care over digital forum

The Support Our Health Care Society hosted the forum

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

A truck and trailer left Reservoir Road north of Penticton earlier on Oct. 23. (Facebook)
UPDATE: Highway 3 closed east of Osoyoos

Police have re-opened Highway 33 at Idabel Lake

Snowfall in the Okanagan shatters records. (Contributed)
Snowfall in Okanagan breaks records dated back to 1899

Penticton has received over 10 cm today, surpassing the 8 cm record set in 1957

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is planning to implement transit service in the West Bench area in September, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Regional district to bring transit service to West Bench in 2021

Residents of area near Penticton will be consulted before plans are finalized

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
Big White receives 21 cm of snow in 24 hours

Resort’s snow base 41 cm deep, one month until opening day

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Members of Summerland council and municipal staff were present on Oct. 22 to officially open the expanded Summerland landfill facility. From left are manager of environmental services Candace Pilling, Coun. Erin Carlson, Coun. Marty Van Alphen, acting mayor Doug Holmes, Coun. Richard Barkwill and Coun. Erin Trainer. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Changes made to entrance of Summerland landfill

Upgrades came at cost of $500,000

Most Read