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Peace Officer Memorial Day in Ottawa… Remembering the Fallen

Police and Peace Officer Memorial Ottawa

Each year on the last Sunday in September, police officers and the public gather on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, to pay tribute to officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their community and country; giving their lives in the line of duty.

For many years, The Canadian Peace Officers’ Memorial Association, representing all peace officers across Canada, has been a driving force behind the tribute to fallen peace officers who have been killed in the performance of their duties.

The Cost of Serving & Protecting

The mantra “to serve and protect” has been the calling card for most officers who followed their dreams into a successful career as a police officer or other type of peace officer. The reality of losing their life while protecting others is an inherent risk for peace officers, but one that seems secondary while performing their day-to-day duties. Each year there are numerous situations in which an officer is confronted with a potentially deadly interaction; however, only those that we read about in the paper or listen to on the news are the stories that bring home the devastating reality of a job we all depend upon.

What Are the Greatest Threats to Police Officer Safety?

Statistics Canada keeps track of the situations in which officers are most threatened. It is during robbery investigations that the highest risk of loss of life occurs for police officers in the line of duty.

Another 14% of police officers were murdered while responding to a domestic dispute, although most of these homicides occurred during the 1960s and 1970s. In more recent years, stopping a suspicious vehicle/person and stopping a vehicle for a traffic violation have resulted in more homicides against police officers than responding to domestic disputes.

Homicides against police officers, by type of circumstance, Canada, 1961 to 2009

Police Homicides by Category
Image Source: Statistics Canada


One-third of murdered officers were relatively new to their service and on average, murdered police officers were 34 years old at the time of their death and had been with their present police service for less than 5 years.

Canadian Police Memorial Pavilion

The Canadian Police Association (CPA) and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) along with Prime Minister Jean Chretien created and dedicated a Canadian Police Memorial Pavilion stone behind the Parliament Buildings in 1994. At the time, it contained the names of 227 police officers killed in the line of duty since 1879.

Since then, two other stones were placed alongside the original: one stone for “peace officers” who had died in the line of duty that included the names of slain “peace officers” from Canadian law enforcement agencies such as Corrections, Ministry of Natural Resources, Customs and Excise, Fisheries and Oceans (Conservation and Protection). The second stone explains the Memorial Pavilion’s history.

An annual tribute to those individuals who risk their lives so that we can live in a safe and secure environment seems to be the very least that we can do. There are only a couple of online sites dedicated to honoring these fallen hero’s; the most respected and longest lasting is the Officer down Memorial Page.

Canadians Honour Fallen Officers

Individual Canadians do their part, at a grass roots level, with different gestures of kindness towards officers all across the country. In Edmonton, after the tragic news that Constable Daniel Woodall had been killed while trying to arrest a suspect spread throughout the community, Edmontonians kept their porch lights on as a beacon of hope and solidarity for the slain officer.

Policing is a dangerous and often thankless job. Although a necessity in our community, it is often viewed with prying eyes that watch for any small mistake, but please remember that every shift presents different challenges and dangers to our officers and one small misstep may be the last they take.

Secure Your Hire

At SecureHire, we are committed to actively assisting brave men and women, who want to serve the public good by becoming peace officers, in the hiring process. We do this by showcasing our job profiles to various Canadian police organizations and security agencies who are looking to hire talented and committed candidates. Sign up today and let us secure your hire!

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