Michelle Shegelski was a tough armoured car guard, but also a romantic woman who wore white lace and ruffles for a princess-style wedding just two months ago.
It’s the dress her family chose to lay her to rest in on Tuesday, when 200 people gathered at her funeral to say goodbye.
“Her family thought it best to have her wear the gown she wore on the happiest day of her life,” Marcia Loder told the service.
Ms. Loder officiated at Ms. Shegelski’s wedding and said the young woman designed the dress herself for a Victorian-style ceremony at Fort Edmonton Park.
“She was a practical person and would have seized any opportunity to wear her wedding dress again,” Ms. Loder explained with a laugh.
Others described the 26-year-old they fondly called “Mic” as a strong, courageous woman with a quirky sense of humour. She was an avid reader, wrote a blog, learned Chinese and took belly dancing classes.
Ms. Shegelski and two other G4S armed guards were shot and killed while they were restocking a bank machine at the University of Alberta on June 15. Private funerals were held last week for Eddie Rejano, 39, and Brian Ilesic, 35.
About 500 people also attended a private memorial service in Edmonton on Sunday for all three victims.
A fourth guard, 25-year-old Matthew Schuman, was shot in the head but is recovering in hospital.
A guard who was on the same crew that day has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and robbery. Travis Baumgartner, 21, was arrested a day after the heist as he tried to cross the Canada-U.S. border with $334,000 in a backpack.
Many G4S employees and guards with other security companies attended Ms. Shegelski’s service.
Cheryl Ernst told mourners that her daughter could best be compared to a birthday sparkler, giving off sparkles wherever she went.
Ms. Ernst said Ms. Shegelski always challenged herself. When she joined the security company about four years ago, she started patrolling a grocery store. She then moved to working alone at night in an office building.
“Her big fear was facing the scary dark boiler room on her own. But she sucked it up and she did it,” Ms. Ernst said.
Ms. Shegelski later transferred to the company’s armoured car division. And it was there in 2009, while training new employees, that she met her future husband, Victor.
The former soldier, who left G4S after a year, said Ms. Shegelski hated him instantly.
They were opposites in many ways. He drank beer and she liked pretentious coffee shops. She hosted princess tea parties and watched Disney movies with her girlfriends. He would never attend.
But nothing could stop their fairy-tale romance, he said.
“We had something I once never thought existed and I can only thank her for giving me that. She renewed emotions I once buried and made me feel a confidence a man only feels with the perfect woman at his side.”
A slide show included pictures of Ms. Shegelski growing up in High Level in northern Alberta, where her father, Peter Ernst, is the mayor. She moved to Edmonton after high school and completed her bachelor of arts degree on the campus where she died.
Among the many wedding photos was one of a smiling bride, her arms pumped in the air, comically showing off the muscles tone she had gained at the gym. She was also training for her first triathlon this month.
Ms. Shegelski’s funeral program quoted some of her blog entries. In one, she wrote about hurrying to work for her night shift:
“I suffer through the old runoff, moving down the dimly lit stairway to receive a briefing from the last shift. They’re tired and want to go home. Hell, we all do. ‘The password’s changed. Don’t forget.’ I study it carefully before crumbling it into illegibility.
“Security. It’s what we do.”
Her sister, Christine, read aloud another blog entry in which Ms. Shegelski wrote about how life can change in a instant.
“While I type these letters someone dies, is born, changes jobs, loves.
“Seconds. The world is built on seconds.”