The memory of a hate crime victim killed 20 years ago was invoked Friday night as Ottawa's 10-day Capital Pride Festival kicked off.

Alain Brosseau was robbed, beaten, and thrown off the Alexandria Bridge in 1989 because his teenaged attackers mistakenly believed the Ch�teau Laurier waiter was gay.

A vigil at the bridge remembered Brossard and other hate crime victims as part of the festival's celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered lifestyles.

Brosseau's death led to the creation of Canada's first dedicated hate crime squad.

"The fact that is started everything is sad but also happy," said Frankie Challoner. "Without it we might not be here today."

Both police chiefs from Ottawa and Gatineau attended Friday's event with about 300 others.

Vern White and Mario Halel pointed to the new channels of communication over the past two decades along with the challenges that remain in curbing violence against homosexuals.

Jeffrey Lalonde, the Ottawa man convicted in Brosseau's death, was found dead in his Quebec cell in May 2008.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Jamie Long