New Brunswick

Sculptor hopes Moncton Mounties monument brings peace, healing

Newfoundland sculptor Morgan MacDonald touches the arm of one of three Codiac Regional RCMP officers he has immortalized in bronze.

Newfoundland artist Morgan MacDonald unveils tribute to 3 RCMP officers gunned down in June 2014

Newfoundland sculptor Morgan MacDonald touches the arm of one of three Codiac Regional RCMP officers he has immortalized in bronze.

"My hope is that it brings some peace, some healing to the community," he said.

Const. Douglas James Larche, 40, Const. Dave Joseph Ross, 32, and Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, were gunned down in Moncton two years ago today by Justin Bourque.

Community shaken

Their murders shook the community and the country.

Last year, MacDonald presented his vision of a monument to the fallen officers, to a roomful of Moncton city councillors, RCMP officers and family members.

Shortly thereafter, "I get a phone call and it's a conference call and, 'Congratulations you've got the job.' So it's like you're elated, you're very proud and then the reality sets in, 'Oh, I've got a lot of work to do.'"

What MacDonald has created is a life-like portrayal of the officers and an intimate look into what was important to them in their lives.

The men stand in a circle, back to back. Larche is in formal serge, while Ross and Gevaudan are both wearing their daily uniforms.

Const. Douglas James Larche's three young daughters are represented by ballet slippers at the base of the monument. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)
But it's when viewers look down that they learn about the men behind the uniforms.

Larche, who was a jogger, has an imprint of his running shoe at the base of his statue.

Near his boots are three tiny ballet slippers, with a sprinkle of glitter dust.

"His three daughters were so special to him and so there's three ballet slippers in the monument representing each one of the girls," said MacDonald.

As viewers walk around the sculpture, their eyes are drawn to the hat in Gevaudan's hand. On the inside of the hat is a picture of a smiling Gevaudan and his stepdaughter.

A photograph of Const. Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, and his stepdaughter is depicted on the inside of the hat. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)
Ross was a dog handler and outdoor enthusiast. The footprints of his dog, Danny, are there, along with those of his two children and wife. There are also footprints of animals, such as deer.

"The theme around that is prints — prints that we leave in our lives and the experiences we have, and the legacies that we've left."

Personal touches

The most special part of the process for MacDonald was when the slain officers' widows and some of their children came to visit his foundry.

Nadine Larche made the imprint of her husband's running shoe by pressing it into the base of his statue.

The other widows also added their own personal touches to the public tribute, including some of their late husbands' service medals.

"For me, I've been doing this for a number of years now. I'm going to look back at this as a very special time," said MacDonald.

I'm going to look back at this as a moment in my life. This is a huge chapter.- Morgan MacDonald, sculptor

"It's just been a life-changing experience, having met these women and having shared the experiences of coming here in the foundry and been entrusted with creating this," MacDonald said.

"I'm going to look back at this as a moment in my life. This is a huge chapter."

In a circle around the three life-size figures are maple leaves.

MacDonald travelled to Moncton and had the officers' family members, their fellow Mounties, school children, and citizens imprint their fingerprints on wax versions of the maple leaves, which were later bronzed.

'Heart and soul'

He hopes the monument becomes "basically the heart and soul," of the tragedy and helps "people of the area really recognize the sacrifice that these men have made and what it means to be a police officer.

"So it's going to be a pretty proud moment to have those statues there in place on that day."

A public ceremony and unveiling of the monument is taking place today at 11 a.m. AT at Moncton's Riverfront Park.

Const. Éric Stéphane J. Dubois and Const. Marie Darlene Goguen were wounded in the shootings.

Bourque, who pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of being paroled for 75 years.