The blowing snow and rain didn’t stop people from taking part in the 16th Police and Peace Officer Memorial ceremony on Sunday in Regina.
Albert Street from College Avenue to Legislative Drive was closed off to traffic Sunday morning as members of provincial law enforcement organizations paraded towards the Saskatchewan Legislative Building for the ceremony.
Members of government and the public awaited the group’s arrival to celebrate the lives of police and peace officers who died in the line of duty in Saskatchewan.
“It’s important that we take a day out of our lives to remember their sacrifice, to remember the fact they have fallen while serving our community,” said Staff Sgt. Grant Obst of the Saskatoon Police.
Staff Sgt. Obst was the master of ceremonies for this year’s event. He mentioned how there are 63 peace and police officers who have died while serving in Saskatchewan since Confederation.
Each name was read out loud during the memorial, echoing outside of the legislature as the wind continued to blow flakes of snow into the still crowd. The reading of the names preceded the laying of wreaths, a song from the Campbell Collegiate choir, the Canadian national anthem and “Last Post”.
Obst said standing outside during the cold conditions was a very small sacrifice compared to what others have done to protect the public.
“I’m super happy that we had the people who showed up. There were all kinds of citizens who aren’t police or peace officers who joined us this morning,” he stated following the ceremony. “The wind and the snow was driving, but everyone was here with us.”
A group of police and peace officers, along with family and friends, travelled approximately 450 kilometres across the province during the weekend to be a part of the memorial.
Named the “Ride to Remember”, the event originated in Ontario where officers travelled to the national memorial held in Ottawa each year. In 2015, two members from the Saskatoon Police Service joined in the expedition. Eventually, they decided they wanted to establish the idea in Saskatchewan.
Saskatoon Police Staff Sgt. Patrick Barbar is one of the riders who wanted to make it a tradition in his province after travelling from Toronto to Ottawa four years ago.
He said the ride has a special meaning to him and other police in Saskatchewan.
“Many of these stories of fallen officers are personal stories of people we knew, family members or friends,” he explained. “It’s very meaningful to us.”
He also took the time to mention how much he appreciated seeing so many people from the community brave the cold to be a part of this year’s ceremony.
Members from Saskatoon Police, Regina Police, Saskatchewan RCMP, Provincial Correctional Services and the Saskatoon Fire Department all participated in this weekend’s tour to the Queen City.
While this was the 16th year for the memorial in Saskatchewan, the national memorial in Ottawa has been hosted annually since 1974.