Edmonton community honours fallen soldier
An Edmonton neighbourhood took some time out from citywide community day celebrations on Saturday to pay tribute to one of its own killed in Afghanistan.
Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze was killed in 2008 when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb outside of Kandahar.
Hayakaze grew up in the Highlands neighbourhood, and the community dedicated a children's garden in Highlands Park to the soldier on Saturday.
Cpl. Jeff Thompson grew up with Hayakaze and escorted his body home from Afghanistan.
He said it's nice to have his friend honoured.
"Really, I think it's amazing," he said.
"I think for a community to come together like this and remember somebody who has grown up in the area and fallen in the line of duty, I think it's just amazing. And to have this amount of turnout, and to have people actually come up to us and be interested in what's going on, I think it's amazing."
Thompson has fond memories of Hayakaze.
"He was a good guy. He always smiled, always the nicest guy in the world," he said.
"He joked around non-stop … he just never stopped smiling. He was probably one of the greatest people ever for that."
Rhys Bailey, the president of the Highlands Community League, said he thinks the children's garden is a fitting tribute to the fallen soldier.
"When he was serving in Afghanistan, he was really interested in helping the kids, helping the children. He realized that they needed help."
Hayakaze's family say there were touched by the community's actions and pleased to see so many come out for the ceremony.