Family and friends gathered Wednesday for a sombre farewell to Corporal Steve Martin, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan two days before his 25th birthday.
People packed the Eglise St-Cyrille in St-Cyrille-de-Wendover, about 115 kilometres northeast of Montreal.
A military honour guard flanked the walkway into the towering church as Cpl. Martin's coffin, which was draped with the Canadian Forces flag, was carried from a funeral home across the street and into the private service.
Crowds of people filed inside, including the mother of another soldier who was killed in Afghanistan.
Nicole Beauchamp, whose son Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp was killed three years ago when his light armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb, said she wanted to be present to support Cpl. Martin's family.
“My thoughts are with the family,” she said as she hurried into the church.
“They need our support,” she said, adding she was proud of the Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
Cpl. Martin, who was killed on Dec. 18, is the 154th Canadian soldier to die during the combat mission to the war-ravaged country.
A member of 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, Martin arrived for his second tour in Afghanistan shortly after burying his grandfather in St-Cyrille-de-Wendover.
Martin was serving with Parachute Company of the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment battle group based at CFB Valcartier, Que.
Charles Bouchard, a retired member of the Canadian Forces, came from Quebec City to pay his respects even though he didn't know Martin.
“It's very hard because the guy belongs to our family,” said Mr. Bouchard, who was also a member of the Royal 22e Regiment.
Martin was killed while on foot patrol near a major road construction project that NATO is promoting in a volatile district of Kandahar.
The area in the horn of Panjwaii was until recently dominated by the Taliban, which used it as a staging point to attack toward the provincial capital.
While an initial American assault drove out insurgents, some bomb-laying cells have remained in the area.
Cpl. Martin's combat death was the first for the Forces since Cpl. Brian Pinksen died of wounds in hospital on Aug. 26, four days after being caught in a roadside bombing.
Cpl. Martin, a native of nearby Drummondville, joined the Canadian Forces in October 2005 and was assigned to the Royal 22e Regiment, commonly known as the Van Doos, in 2006.
He had also served in earthquake-devastated Haiti earlier this year.