At today's funeral for three Mounties killed in the line of duty last week in Moncton, N.B., Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke about the "profound sadness and searing grief" brought about by the shootings.
He said the sadness is being felt across the country but "nowhere more profoundly" than in Moncton.
The regimental funeral for constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, Dave Joseph Ross and Douglas James Larche was attended by thousands of RCMP and other law enforcement officials from across Canada.
Among them were the two Mounties who were wounded in the shootings, constables Éric Stéphane J. Dubois and Marie Darlene Goguen.
The caskets were carried into the Moncton Coliseum by RCMP officers dressed in their red serge uniforms, the packed arena silent, other than the sound of a crying baby.
Roger Brown, the assistant commissioner of the RCMP in New Brunswick, offered a tearful eulogy to the three Mounties.
"I am so fortunate we have over 1,200 [RCMP] employees in our beautiful province and with the eyes of the nation upon us today, I wanted to publicly say how incredibly proud I am of each and every one of you," Brown said.
"I only wish that I could have told Doug, Dave and Fabrice in person. I will never forget that nor will we. Const. Gevaudan, Const. Ross, Const. Larche, to your post dismissed," he said, his voice breaking with emotion.
He also pointed to the three large photos of the constables and urged the crowd to help their loved ones in these difficult days.
"Remember that while you don’t see them, there are family and friends behind each and every one of them," Brown said.
Harper said an attack on police officers is not just an attack on them, but also on society as a whole.
"Together we struggle for answers, we ask what in God’s name happened here and why? We may never know. When we search for reason and meaning in actions so intrinsically vile and senseless, we search in unlikely places," Harper said.
"With three men dead, cut down in their prime, doing their sworn duty to serve and protect their neighbours, we do not need a verdict to know that what happened here is an outrage."
Supt. Marlene Snowman said the officers will be "forever missed" and people will never forget the ultimate sacrifice they made. "They remained true to their commitment to serve public safety," she said.
"Each one of them responded to the call without hesitation. They took action, which was to protect their community and each other from imminent threat."
Snowman said she felt blessed to have had the privilege of working with the officers and knowing them.
She described them as "admirable men, who were also remarkable officers," as colleagues looked on, clutching their Stetson hats to their chests.
"The Codiac detachment, our members, their families and this community will be forever changed," said Snowman.
"Our memories will remain, the pain will fade and the men and women of Codiac will continue to proudly serve."
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said all of Canada is grateful for the actions of the three "exceptional members" and the sacrifice of their loved ones.
"We believe in what they died for," he said during the service, which lasted more than three hours. "They put themselves between danger and our citizens."
Paulson made a personal pledge to never forget the "heroes," "your husbands and brothers."
The service was for all three officers, but it was also individualized for them — one being a Roman Catholic, another Baptist and the third non-denominational.
A bugler played Last Post, which was followed by a moment of silence to mark the separation of the slain officers from their loved ones.
RCMP officials then presented the Canadian flags that covered the caskets to the families — Gevaudan's widow, Angela, Ross's widow, Rachel, and Larche's widow, Nadine, and their three daughters.
The crowd stood as the caskets were carried out to the accompaniment of the Greater Moncton Ecumenical Children's Choir and placed in individual hearses.
Families remember slain officers
Daniel Larche was the first to honour the memory of one of the slain officers. He spoke about how his “little brother Doug” was “selfless in every aspect of life.”
“He always put others before himself, even in death,” he said.
Larche told the crowd of thousands how his brother devoted his life to his wife, Nadine, and their three daughters. He said the two recently spent their 12th wedding anniversary at their daughters’ year-end dance recitals.
He told the police officers how proud his brother would be to know how much support they had given his family in recent days. Larche said he hopes no other police families have to endure the pain they are going through now.
“Never in my worst nightmare did I envision a stitch in time where I would be one to give his eulogy. I guess it is because Doug was in the prime of his life, invincible, and it never occurred to me that I could one day have to worry about this. Certainly not now, not for another 50 years,” Larche said.
“I always assumed that we were going to get old and retire together.… I want him back so badly that I can tell him one more time that I love him and I’m proud of the great man he has become.”
Adrien Van Der Ploeg paid tribute to his brother-in-law, a man he remembered as a “true hero.”
Van Der Ploeg spoke about how Dave Ross was deeply committed to serving his community and even during family car trips he would pull over at any accident scene to see if everyone was safe.
He said on the day he died, Ross left his home with the garage door raised and the barbecue lid open after being called to work.
“Dave loved the RCMP. For him, it was his pride and duty to serve and protect, this was evident in his personal life,” he said.
Ross had a son and his wife, Rachael, is six months' pregnant.
The sense of family within the RCMP was also touched on Geoffrey McLatchie, the spiritual adviser for the Gevaudan family.
“[Fabrice] had the RCMP family of which he was innately proud. He loved being a member of the RCMP family, he cherished each day that he went to work, to work in the community to be part of the community to be a protector to the community,” he said.
Procession lined Moncton street
The caskets were brought to the Moncton Coliseum by a huge procession of RCMP officers as citizens lined both sides of Millennium Boulevard in the southeastern New Brunswick city.
The majority of those lining the procession route were wearing red in honour of the slain Mounties.
The procession was so long, it started earlier than scheduled in order to arrive at the Coliseum on time.
Behind the hearse that was bringing the body of slain officer Dave Joseph Ross to the funeral was his dog, Danny. Ross was a dog handler with the RCMP.
Staff Sgt. Major Gilles Côté, who co-ordinated the funeral, said an estimated 7,000 RCMP officers and first responders are in Moncton for the service.
He said his goal was to honour the slain officers "in the best way we can as an organization."
In all, seven planes loaded with police officers from across Canada and the United States flew into Moncton on Tuesday morning. Law enforcement officers from other countries, such as Great Britain, are also at the funeral.
The city has organized 10 remote viewing sites around Moncton so people could mourn together.
‘The best thing we could do is to say, thank you’
The funeral follows the public visitation for the Mounties that drew large crowds on Monday.
Nicky Carrier was one of the many Moncton residents who turned out to the visitation. His family lives in the area that was locked down last week and he said it is important that the RCMP understands how much the public appreciates their service.
“Everywhere I went this week, I stopped, if I saw a police car I followed them and stopped and said, thank you,” he said.
“I think the best thing we could do is to say, thank you for taking care of our community and our children and my family.”
Paul Thebeau drove to Moncton from Shediac with his son for the visitation on Monday.
“I mean we love the RCMP because they're protecting us all the time. So we have to be here, it's our turn to show our respect,” Thebeau said.