EDMONTON — As memorial services across Canada recognized peace officers who have died in the line of duty, two cases in northern Alberta this past year showed just how dangerous their jobs can be.
RCMP Const. David Wynn was shot while attempting to apprehend a suspect in a stolen vehicle investigation north of Edmonton in January, while Const. Daniel Woodall was shot and killed in June when he executed an arrest warrant related to hate crimes.
Woodall's name was the last of 100 that were read during a service at the Alberta legislature on Sunday honouring police, sheriffs and conservation officers in the province.
His widow laid the first wreath.
"It's meant a lot seeing all these police families and all the police officers marching. It's a big family, and you can tell it's all a close-knit family and it's always going to be that way," Claire Woodall told reporters after the ceremony.
Woodall and Wynn were also recognized at a national ceremony held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, which also honoured Rhonda Commodore, a Manitoba corrections officer and Toni Kristinsson, a BC Department of Transport enforcement officer, who lost their lives in the past year.
Commodore, 44, was a passenger in a van taking six prisoners from The Pas to Dauphin last November when the driver lost control and she was ejected from the vehicle. Kristinsson, whose job involved checking for such things as loads, licences and insurance, was driving home near the end of his shift in February when his vehicle collided with a commercial transport truck.
Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill, who is the president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, told the Ottawa ceremony that prayers are said every year at the annual event that no new names will be added to the memorial.
"Sadly this year our wish has not been fulfilled ... we struggle to understand why and we wonder how things might have been," Weighill said.
""There is little comfort in these thoughts. All we can do to ease our collective loss is to come together as we have today."
This year's memorial service also marked 10 years since the Mayerthorpe tragedy. On March 3, 2005, James Roszko used a military assault rifle to kill four Mounties near the town of Mayerthorpe, Alta.
During the sombre service in Edmonton, an RCMP service dog, Aztec, brought smiles to many faces by barking enthusiastically every time a commander called the hundreds of police and peace officers on the legislature grounds to attention.
"Each and every day, police and peace officers are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe," said Kathleen Ganley, Alberta's justice minister and solicitor general.
"All police and peace officers have my heartfelt and unending respect and gratitude for the work they do."
Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press
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