10 years after Mountie slaying, Hay River, N.W.T., remembers Const. Christopher Worden

'Every year we talk about Chris,' says Hay River resident Kevin Wallington, who was a town councillor the day Const. Worden was shot and who helps organize an annual vigil.

Const. Worden and Const. Doug Scott were killed within 1 month of each other in 2007

Const. Christopher Worden, 30, was killed while on duty in Hay River, N.W.T., in 2007. Ten years later, people in the community are remembering him in an annual service. (Virtual War Memorial)
Ten years ago today, Const. Christopher John Worden, aged 30, responded alone to a call for assistance in Hay River, N.W.T.

He was shot four times in the early morning hours while chasing a suspect on foot.

It's a night the community has refused to forget.

"Every year we talk about Chris," said Hay River resident Kevin Wallington, who was a town councillor at the time and who helps organize an annual vigil.

Wallington says Worden was known for helping break down barriers between at-risk youth and police.

"It's our responsibility to take up the work of building a community and investing in people and doing the kind of things we saw Chris do, both as a member and a member of our community."

'A horrible day'

Vince Mckay, a volunteer firefighter of 22 years, was a first responder on the morning Worden was shot.

"Anyone who was in the department, I'm sure, will never forget that day," said Mckay. "A horrible day."

McKay remembers getting to know Worden while helping him train to become a St. John Ambulance instructor.

Const. Doug Scott was killed one month later in Kimmirut, Nunavut. (RCMP)
When he got the call that an officer was "missing," he was shocked to learn who it was.

Now, he says, he thinks each year about the wife and daughter Worden left behind.  

McKay blames, in part, the drug trade in Hay River for Worden's death.

Emrah Bulatci, then 25, was in Hay River to sell cocaine when Worden stopped him and tried to arrest him. Bulatci was later found guilty of first-degree murder.

"We use this vigil to remind ourselves we have to keep up a stand against all drugs."

The community has since created drug free zones for youth and a program to keep the light on in the school gym after hours.

Backup policy change

Worden's death, as well as that of Const. Doug Scott, 20, who was shot to death in Kimmirut, Nunavut, just one month later, prompted a change to the RCMP's backup policy. They now require two officers to respond to any violent or potentially violent situation.

The N.W.T. no longer has one-member detachments.

Though the RCMP says it does not have statistics on the number of members who respond to calls for service, CBC is aware of at least one case where an officer responded to a call about a woman being beaten in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. in 2014.

RCMP staff vacancies may also pose a threat to that policy. The N.W.T.'s "G" Division had a vacancy rate of 8.9 per cent as of April 1.

'It's a comfort,' says brother

The annual vigil makes a difference to at least one of Worden's family members.

"Every year this time we get the same welling up of sadness," says Peter Worden, Christopher's youngest brother, from Revelstoke, B.C.

"Every year we hear from the friends and everyone up North. It's a comfort."

The 10th anniversary vigil begins at 6:30 p.m. at Hay River town council chambers, and will continue to the RCMP detachment, where words from Worden's parents and his widow will be read by candlelight.

Commanding officers from Yellowknife RCMP also plan to attend.