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Memorial service honours fallen police officers days after RCMP officer slain in B.C.

Police officers from across the country gathered in Ottawa Sunday for a somber occasion.

The last Sunday in September is the National Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day, where those who died in the line of duty in the past year are remembered.

Thirteen names were added to the honour roll this year, including 11 from the last year: Toronto Police Service Const. Andrew Hong, South Simcoe Police Service constables Devon Northrup and Morgan Russell, RCMP constables Shaelyn Yang and Harvinder Dhami, Ontario Provincial Police Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala, Sgt. Eric Mueller, and Det. Const. Steven Tourangeau, Edmonton Police Service constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan, and Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Maureen Breau.

Also added this year are two "historical" names: Canada Customs Officer James Mowat (1913) and RCMP Const. Vernon Genaille (2002).

"We wouldn’t miss it, but 11 officers this year... it's not a good world anymore," said attendee Janis Gardiner-Petersen. "Every year, you hope that you don’t have any hats on the podium, but I don’t remember there being more than 11."

Danny Smyth, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, called the number of officers being honoured this year unprecedented in modern history.

"It was touching to hear their stories and learn a little bit about their lives," Smyth said. "As you can see by their support here and by the support they’ve had along the way, they are going to stay in our memory for a long time."

The memorial service came just two days after RCMP Const. Rick O'Brien was shot and killed in Coquitlam, B.C.

"We lost a police officer on Friday while everybody was travelling here to show support for the families that have made the biggest sacrifice of all," said Canadian Police Association president Tom Stamatakis. "It's important that we gather and we show their loved ones that we remember their loved ones."

Officers marched in a parade down Wellington Street before arriving at Parliament Hill for the memorial service, during which Governor General Mary Simon and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc delivered remarks. 

"It is important for us to remember and honour those officers who lost their lives in the line of duty," said Simon. "Every day, police and police officers, such as yourselves and those we have lost, help keep our communities safe. You do so without seeking praise or recognition. You do so because it is your duty. You do so because it is a commitment you have made to your communities."

The service ended with a procession past the memorials for the fallen officers.

Retired Ottawa Police Service Det. Theresa Kelm led the ceremony, and read memorials for the 11 officers who died in the past year.

Who are the fallen officers?

Toronto Police Const. Andrew Hong was shot and killed Sept. 12, 2022 at a Mississauga Tim Hortons. He was a 22-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service. He died in what police called a "shooting spree" that also killed another man. Hong was 48.

"Andrew was determined to be on the front line in policing with the community," said Kelm. "Andrew Hong fulfilled his dream to be a police officer with Toronto Police Service. Andrew joined the motorcycle squad and this was the highlight of his career."

South Simcoe Constables Devon Northrup and Morgan Russell were killed on Oct. 11, 2022, while responding to a call for a domestic dispute in Innisfil, Ont. Northrup was 33 years old and had been with the force for six years. Russell was 54, a 33-year police veteran, a husband and father to two teenage children.

"In 2016, Devon graduated from the Ontario police college and began his dream job with the South Simcoe Police Service," Kelm described. "He was a dedicated and passionate officer who accomplished much during his tragically brief career."

Jeff Carr attended the ceremony in Ottawa. Northrup was his nephew.

"He was a great guy. He loved doing service to his community, he loved his family; he was a great person and he was taken far too soon," Carr said.

"Constable Morgan Russell showed an interest in policing from a very young age. Indeed, his closest family members often recall Morgan having a miniature police car clutched in his hand when he was a little boy," said Kelm. "Morgan was a 33-year veteran of the service and was assigned to uniform patrol. He excelled in his position as a frontline officer and chose to remain on the job after becoming eligible for retirement and continued to serve in the role he loved on the road."

RCMP Constable Shaelyn Yang was stabbed to death Oct. 18, 2022 after responding to a call about a man in a tent at a park in Burnaby, B.C. She was 31, and had moved to Canada from Taiwan at a young age.

"In addition to her contributions to the community as a police officer, Shaelyn is remembered as a loving wife, daughter, compassionate colleague, friend, and dog mom." Kelm said. "Her family was very proud of Shaelyn for giving all of herself and making this world a better place."

Const. Shaelyn Yang of the Burnaby RCMP detachment was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 18, 2022. (B.C. RCMP)

RCMP Const. Harvinder Dhami, 32, died in a crash near the Saskatchewan River in Alberta on April 10, 2023, while driving to assist other officers with a noise complaint. His vehicle struck a concrete barrier and he died at the scene. Dhami, known as "Harvey" by his colleagues, was a "hard-working go-getter."

"Constable Dhami's dedication to community service began early in life. He was an avid volunteer for the Langar on Wheels program in Brampton, Ont., established by the Punjabi Community Health Services, serving meals to elderly individuals within the community," said Kelm.

"Constable's Dhami unwavering duty to serve the residents of Strathcona County and Albertans shone brightly through his actions."

Const. Harvinder Dhami

OPP Const. Grzegorz Pierzchala died in the line of duty on Dec. 27, 2022, the day he completed his probationary period with the Ontario Provincial Police. He was shot and killed while responding to a call for an incapacitated vehicle near Hagersville, Ont. He was 28.

"He upheld his oath with integrity, professionalism and courage for the short time he was with the OPP," Kelm said. "Colleagues describe Greg as the officer everyone wanted to work with. He was known as someone with a big heart, and this reflected in his work with the community."

OPP Sgt. Eric Mueller responded to a shooting call in Bourget, Ont. on May 11, 2023, where he and two other officers were "ambushed and shot" according to OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique. Mueller was 42, and was described by his colleagues as a coach, a mentor, someone that everybody looked up to.

"Eric was a compassionate and caring man, commonly known as a gentle giant," Kelm said. "He was someone you could always count on, regardless of the circumstances, for advice or to simply lend an ear... He led by example and always represented the core values of the OPP through his actions, words and sense of duty."

OPP Sgt. Eric Mueller was killed in the line of duty Thursday morning. OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique says Mueller died after being shot in Bourget, Ont. (OPP/release)

OPP Det. Const. Steven Tourangeau died May 29, 2023, when his unmarked cruiser hit a school bus near Woodstock, Ont. The school bus driver was also killed in the crash. Torangeau was 35.

"Steven was a family man, living every day putting his family first. He know how to prioritize the important things in life and live every day to the fullest," said Kelm. "Steven was described as the ultimate team player and a model police officer."

Det. Const. Steven Tourangeau was killed in a collision involving an unmarked cruiser and school bus on May 29, 2023. (OPP)

Edmonton Police constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan were shot and killed on March 16, 2023 while responding to a family dispute. The suspect was a 16-year-old boy. Jordan, 35, had served with the Edmonton Police Service for eight-and-a-half years, and Ryan, 30, had been with the force for five-and-a-half years.

"Travis's recruit class described him as someone who took initiative, showed perseverance, and was outgoing, trustworthy and dependable. His close friends and family shared the same sentiments," said Kelm. "On his days off, you could also find him at one of the many golf courses around Alberta with his golf buddies, enjoying the small things in life."

When describing Ryan's life, Kelm noted that his wife Ashley is currently expecting the couple's first child. 

"His (Ryan's) recruit class described his as having outstanding interpersonal skills, excelling at public speaking and staying calm in stressful situations," Kelm said. "Brett volunteered with minor hockey in the supervision program and enjoyed being a hockey referee."

Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Maureen Breau died March 27, 2023 in Louiseville, Que., about 100 km north of Montreal. The 20-year veteran of the force was stabbed while serving an arrest warrant. The 42-year-old was remembered as a mother, a daughter, and a policewoman who dedicated her career to keeping people safe.

"During her career with the Sûreté du Québec, she worked in different posts," said Kelm, in French. "Maureen was known for her kindness, devotion and professionalism at work. She was a devoted spouse and an attentive, loving mother." 

Sgt. Maureen Breau, killed during an arrest, had been on the force for 20 years.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Natalie van Rooy, CTV News Toronto, CTV News Barrie, CTV News Edmonton, CTV News Vancouver, CTV News Montreal, and The Canadian Press. Top Stories

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