Glenn Russell fought back tears as he listened to memories of his son, Sergeant Ryan Russell, Sunday at the annual ceremony of remembrance for officers killed in the line of duty.
More than 400 people, as well as those from within the ranks of RCMP, Canadian and American police, came to Queen's Park to commemorate the deaths of police officers. The rain held off as officials spoke, praising the courage of those in the force.
James Christie, president of the Ontario Police Memorial Foundation, spoke of Sgt. Russell's commitment to his work and his lasting impact. "Thanks to [Sgt. Russell's]decision to sign an organ donor card, soon a boy will be able to see," he said.
The ceremony recognized the deaths of six officers in past years as well as this year's loss of Sgt. Russell of the Toronto Police Service who was struck by a snowplow while trying to stop it during the early morning hours. Their names will be added to the Ontario Police Memorial monument at Queen's Park. Sgt. Russell's family sat in the front row until they rose to hang a wreath in his memory.
The Russell family did not speak at the service.
The man charged in Sgt. Russell's death, Richard Kachkar, 44, is in custody awaiting trial. More than 10,000 mourners attended Sgt. Russell's funeral in January at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. At the funeral, Sgt. Russell was described as a selfless police officer and a "modern-day hero."
For Susan Edwards, 58, Sunday's ceremony was a chance to remember her grandfather, Constable Norman Maker, who was shot and killed in 1928 while making an arrest in Peterborough, Ont. Her mother was three years old when he was killed.
"I come to represent my family," she said, adding that the ceremony helps reinforce and show the respect people have for police officers.
The Ontario Police Memorial statue is inscribed with the names of fallen Ontario officers. The foundation holds a remembrance ceremony on the first Sunday of May each year. The CN Tower was lit up blue to mark the event this weekend.