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Police officers, peace officers, park wardens and members of the Military Police are considered part of the larger police force community, especially when it involves the death of a comrade. Shown in the photograph is the Alberta Police and Peace Officers' Memorial honouring and remembering their Fallen. The memorial lists approximately one hundred officers dating back to the establishment of the North-West Mounted Police and includes Canadian Armed Forces' Military Police Corporal Stephen David Gibson from Canadian Forces Base Suffield and Corporal Randy Joseph Payne from Canadian Forces Base/Area Support Unit Wainwright. Corporal Gibson, age 29, was killed on 26 September 2003 when his unmarked patrol car was struck from behind at a high rate of speed by a tractor trailer on the Trans-Canada Highway near Medicine Hat, Alberta. Corporal Gibson was acting as an escort behind the runners for the Terry Fox run marathon. He had been transferred to Canadian Forces Base Suffield only five days prior to the accident and was killed on his first day of duty as a Military Police officer after graduating from the academy in Borden, Ontario. Corporal Payne, age 32, was killed in action on 22 April 2006 while serving as a member of the Close Protection Team that was assigned to protect the Regional Command South Commander, Brigadier-General David Fraser. Corporal Payne and three other soldiers - Corporal Matthew Dinning, Bombadier Myles Mansell and Lieutenant William Turner - were killed when their armored vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb near Gombad, 75 kilometers north of Kandahar city, Afghanistan. There are currently more than 2,000 Military Police members in the Canadian Armed Forces of whom approximately 1,400 are sworn peace officers.
A memorial plaque was originally dedicated on the South Grounds of the Alberta Legislature, Edmonton, on 26 September 1999 in recognition of the inaugural "Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day" that was proclaimed by the Government of Alberta. This annual ceremony of remembrance takes place on the last Sunday of September coinciding with the Canadian Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day ceremony in Ottawa. On 18 July 2006, a permanent monument, "The Pillar of Strength", was dedicated by The Honourable Norman L. Kwong, C.M., A.O.E., Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and The Honourable Harvey Cenaiko, M.L.A., Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. The memorial commemorates these officers killed in the line of duty since 1876 and the eternal flame serves as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifices made.
On this day, 26 September 2021, we honour Canadian Armed Forces' Military Police Corporal Stephen David Gibson and Corporal Randy Joseph Payne that are memorialized on the Alberta Police and Peace Officers' Memorial that was unveiled fifteen years ago. It is also an opportunity for family and friends to pay their respects to the Fallen at the 23rd Annual Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day ceremony at the Alberta Legislative grounds.
André M. Levesque