Hundreds of people gathered in Winnipeg under grey skies Saturday to say goodbye to a 21-year-old soldier with a "smile that could light up a room."
People held Canadian flags, wore red poppies and stood solemnly on the street as they watched the funeral procession for Cpl. Mike Seggie, who was killed in Afghanistan shortly before he was supposed to return home.
Another 800 people filled a military armoury, attending the ceremony to remember a young Winnipeg man with infectious optimism.
"We all talked about Mike's smile," said family friend Angela Cinq-Mars. "It was one that lit up a room and brought happiness and joy. You knew you were loved when Mike smiled."
Cpl. Seggie died alongside his comrades, Cpl. Andrew Grenon and Pte. Chad Horn, when their armoured vehicle was hit in a "direct attack" by insurgents in Afghanistan's Zhari district Sept. 3. Cpl. Seggie came from a military family, serving in the same battalion as his father Jim, a retired master warrant officer.
Like the other 96 Canadian soldiers who have died in the war torn country, Ms. Cinq-Mars said Cpl. Seggie is a hero to his family and to all Canadians. His death has left a big hole for his loved ones, she added.
"It's a tough day for them," she said. "It will be a day of closure, hopefully, for them."
The family is drawing strength from the hundreds of people who came out on a windy Saturday to pay their respects, she said.
Jim Moore, a father of three, brought his four grandchildren with him. Holding Canadian flags and signs that said "Thank You," Mr. Moore said watching Cpl. Seggie's funeral procession gives them all a renewed appreciation for Canada.
"It's a heck of a price to pay but it is a price, I guess, that we have to pay in order to maintain a lifestyle," Moore said.
Justin Pokornik brought his nine-year-old daughter Mikayla to hand out yellow roses to those lining the streets. The 25-year-old said he's planning to sign up for military service and Cpl. Seggie's death doesn't make him think twice.
Mikayla understands the consequences of having a father in the military but she also understands the importance of the job, Mr. Pokornik said.
"[Cpl. Seggie]gave the ultimate sacrifice for everybody's freedom. It's a pretty touching thing to do," Mr. Pokornik said. "I think it's one of the most proud jobs you can do."
Jean Rolfe's father served in the Second World War, ending up as a Japanese prisoner of war and returning home injured.
"I know what it felt like when he came home sick and wounded. He suffered but at least he came back alive," said the Montreal resident as she held a large Canadian flag and leaned on her cane. "The family needs all the support they can get."
It was Cpl. Seggie's young age that struck Kevin Peabody when he first heard about his death. Cpl. Seggie's death was all the more tragic because he was so close to coming home, Peabody said.
"He was younger than me," said the 25-year-old welding student. "He's seen more in his life than I have in mine. He's done a lot and I'm thankful for what he's done."
Cpl. Seggie, Cpl. Grenon and Pte. Horn were on a security patrol - as their tour of duty was coming to an end - when they came under fire from insurgents. Despite the casualties, military commanders said the soldiers quickly gained the upper hand and "immediately won the firefight."
Five other soldiers were injured, one of them critically.
Cpl. Grenon was buried Friday in his hometown of Windsor, Ont., and Pte. Horn will be laid to rest in Calgary on Monday.