The shadow of the Moncton tragedy hung over the RCMP gymnasium Friday afternoon as officers and their families gathered to present awards and celebrate long-serving members. Flowers were laid in front of the building in White Hills, and Rev. Edward Keeping talked about the deep sorrow in the minds of the policing community.
This week, three police officers were fatally shot and two others were injured, which led to a massive
30-hour manhunt in Moncton.
Justin Bourque was arrested early Friday morning by RCMP officers.
In St. John’s Friday, constables Justin Lyall and Devin Pulsifer received commendations for risking their lives on a stormy night in March to save a suicidal man who had jumped into Port Union harbour.
Speaking to The Telegram, Lyall almost immediately started talking about Moncton, and the outpouring of support RCMP officers have felt this week in the wake of the tragedy.
“It’s really interesting to get it today of all days, right after the incident over there in Moncton. It’s really nice to be recognized for doing something which we consider to be something done as part of our job,” he said. “Everybody tries to avoid us normally, right? So especially lately, even up at the Bonavista detachment we’ve had things dropped with little nice cards, telling us that people are thinking about us and appreciate what we do. It’s really nice to see.”
Speaking at the ceremony, MP Jack Harris said he was in Moncton Wednesday evening, around the time the shootings happened.
“I witnessed first hand the reaction of the community, and not only the significance of the events, but the fact that this community depended on the RCMP and other police officers to protect them and defend them despite what had happened to their own members,” Harris said to the police officers in the room. “Thank you for your service, thank you for your courage, thank you for your extraordinary work on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and all Canadians.”
Along with Lyall and Pulsifer, the RCMP ceremony recognized members of the force who have served 20, 25, 30 and 35 years, and other special-recognition medals.
Tracy Harder, commanding officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador, said that following the shootings in Moncton, she had to make a decision on whether or not to cancel the ceremony.
“We can’t let evil prevail,” she said. “I wasn’t going to let this individual who’s responsible for such evilness to have any power over our (event), and this type of service, regardless of circumstance, is an opportunity for us to honour ourselves as citizens and as dedicated police officers that provide an outstanding service.”