The Memorial Service
On July 11, 1977 Cst. David C. Kirkwood of the Ottawa Police Service was assisting a plain clothes officer in executing an arrest warrant which turned into a three hour shootout. He was stationed at the rear exit of the suspect’s residence. The suspect shot him in the head from an upstairs window and he was killed instantly. Before the situation was over, at least fifty officers were involved and three others were injured.
The murder Cst. Kirkwood launched a response that, today, has become the nationally recognized ceremony honouring police and peace officers killed in the line of duty. Following Cst. Kirkwood’s senseless killing, Ottawa police officers vowed to keep his memory alive and to ensure that the magnitude of his sacrifice, and that of others like him, would never be forgotten by Canadians.
Accordingly, on Sunday, September 24, 1978, a special service and tribute was held on Parliament Hill. The site selected was Parliament, the place where laws are made that directly impact on police officer safety and, ultimately the quality of life for us all. Following that first ceremony, a number of features have become tradition and, at the same time, some modifications to the event have occurred as well.
The ceremony was expanded to honour other police officers murdered in the line of duty and this criterion of inclusion was itself modified years later to include all officers killed in the line of duty. This current criterion is applied retroactively, and names of officers killed in the line of duty from years gone by, are now being added to the Memorial stone. The original ceremonies were limited to police and correctional officers killed but that criterion was expanded in 1995 to include all peace officers so that all areas of law enforcement are now included in one single ceremony.
Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day
On September 24, 1998, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day. The Solicitor General of Canada stated that “a formal, national Memorial Day gives Canadians an opportunity each year to formally express appreciation for the dedication of Police and Peace Officers, who make the ultimate, tragic sacrifice to keep communities safe.” Law Enforcement Officers from all over Canada gather in Ottawa and march to the Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Pavilion on Parliament Hill, where all fallen Officers are remembered and their sacrifices honoured.
British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial
The British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial coincides with the National Police & Peace Officers’ Memorial held in Ottawa and, until 2019, rotated annually between the site of “The Bastion” on the grounds of the BC Legislature in Victoria; and an alternate location in the Lower Mainland. In 2019, after consulting with all of the Law Enforcement agencies and the family members of the fallen officers it was decided that the BC Law Enforcement Memorial Service was to be held permanently in Victoria.
The Bastion, a Provincial Monument dedicated to those officers who lost their lives in active service to the citizens of British Columbia, was unveiled on September 26, 2004 by Premier Gordon Campbell, Solicitor General Rich Coleman and Dr. Chris and Therese Ng, parents of fallen RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng, who represented a “Fallen Hero Family” at the annual Memorial event.
The administration of the British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial is the responsibility of the steering committee consisting of representatives from the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP), the British Columbia Police Association (BCPA) and the British Columbia Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.
The honour of organizing the annual Memorial events is tasked to an organizing committee with representatives from the partner agencies including: