OTTAWA – Police officers, firefighters and paramedics from across Canada and the United States marched Thursday in the funeral procession for a slain Ottawa constable.
Under damp, overcast skies and a temperature of -9 C, the solemn parade threaded its way to the Civic Centre arena for the ceremony.
The dark blue serge of regular police and fire uniforms contrasted with the bright red of the RCMP.
Hundreds of people lined the route to mark the first on-duty death of an Ottawa-area police officer in more than a quarter-century.
Along one street, dozens of school children held signs with Const. Eric Czapnik’s name and the comments: “Courage,” “Valour,” “Thank You.”
Dignitaries at the service included Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley, Premier Dalton McGuinty, federal cabinet ministers and MPs, senators, provincial cabinet ministers and members of the legislature as well as senior police officers from Ottawa, the RCMP and the Ontario Provincial Police.
With an estimated 4,000 uniformed officers expected, a giant TV screen was set up in an adjacent building on the exhibition grounds to allow civilians to watch the ceremony.
Czapnik, 51, was stabbed to death outside an Ottawa hospital on Dec. 29.
Kevin Gregson, 43, a suspended Mountie, has been charged in the death and is in custody.
Czapnik was an immigrant from Poland, where his father was a Warsaw police officer. He followed his father’s path by joining the Ottawa force in 2007.
The father of four was well-known in the city’s Polish community, which turned out masse for the funeral.
Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysk, the Polish ambassador-designate to Canada, attended.