OTTAWA - A police funeral will be held in Ottawa on Saturday for an officer who was killed while responding to a call in northern Quebec last weekend.
Const. Steve Dery of the Kativik Regional Police Service was shot while responding to a domestic dispute in Kuujjuaq, about 1,500 kilometres north of Montreal.
Dery was originally from the Ottawa area.
Ottawa police and the Kativik Regional Police Force say the funeral will be held at the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica (at 385 Sussex Dr.) starting at 11 a.m.
Ottawa police say they are still working with the Kativik police and the Dery Family on how to honour the 27-year-old officer at the funeral.
Visitations will be held on Friday at the Heritage Funeral Home in nearby Orleans.
Dery, 27, died March 2 in Kuujjuaq after he and Joshua Boreland, his partner in Nunavik’s police force, were shot at while responding to a call involving domestic violence.
The armed standoff that followed ended just before 3 p.m. March 3 after a flare was fired into the house where an armed man had barricaded himself.
That’s when members of the special tactical squad from Sûreté du Québec provincial police entered and found the dead body of young man who appeared to have died by suicide inside the same residence, a SQ spokesperson said.
Multiple sources in Kuujjuaq have identified the young man as Jobie Saunders Jr., who was in his early 20s.
A Quebec government statement, released late March 3, said an independent investigation into the Kuujjuaq incident will take place, under legislation that calls for such an inquiry when anyone dies or is injured in a police action.
The SQ will lead that investigation, said Stéphane Bergeron, Quebec’s public security minister.
“Steve had a really good sense of humour and he enjoyed life a lot,” said Dery’s cousin Hélène Sauvageau, who spoke to the Ottawa Citizen March 4 on behalf of his grieving family and girlfriend, a nurse at the Tulattavik Hospital in Kuujjuaq.
“He was brave man with a good heart and always with a smile,” she said. “He wanted to be a policeman to protect others.”
“My condolences to the friends and family of Steve Dery, the young police officer who lost his life in the line of duty in Kuujjuaq,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a March 3 statement.
MPs in the House of Commons observed a moment of silence as a tribute to Dery on March 4.
Also on March 4, Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak rose in the territorial legislature “to share my deepest condolences on the tragic events that took place Saturday evening in Nunavik, our neighbours to the south.”
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, loved ones, and the community of Kuujjuaq during this difficult time,” she said.
The violence started when the two KRPF officers responded to a call at about 9:30 p.m. March 2, SQ Sgt. Ronald McInnis said.
“As soon as they arrived they were shot at,” he said.
The two officers were brought to the Tulattavik Hospital, where Dery died of his wounds, he said.
The other officer, since identified as Boreland, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
A woman who was inside the residence managed to leave.
People in the community of 2,400 have told Nunatsiaq News they feel “very, very sad” that the police officer, a well-liked young man, who had worked in Nunavik since 2009, died.
One Kuujjuaq man said that he thought this past weekend’s incident shows “a lot about how kids are raised and what they live each day,” referring to the high crime of rate and alcohol-related violence in Kuujjuaq, where there were a total of 2,434 criminal incidents in 2012, according to recently-tabled statistics from the KRPF.
These included 640 assaults, of which 424 were alcohol-related and 55 directed against members of the KRPF.
Another resident worried that negative attitudes towards the KRPF, criticized last week by some councillors at a Kativik Regional Government council meeting in Kuujjuaq, may contribute to more attacks against police in Nunavik.
The Kativik Regional Police Force which Dery worked for was created in 1996 to serve communities in Nunavik, which comprises the northern third of Quebec. Kuujjuaq is the largest village in the region, with a population of about 2,400.
(Nunatsiaq News, Canadian Press, Ottawa Citizen)