Ten years after being rocked by tragedy, a community came together to honour two of their own.
On the anniversary of the shooting that killed RCMP Const. Robin Cameron and Const. Marc Bourdages, Spiritwood and surrounding First Nations remembered the officers during a ceremony Wednesday, July 6.
Bourdages’ widow, Natasha Szpakowski, said even though it’s been 10 years, it feels like it happened yesterday.
“Ten-years time has passed, but there’s still emotion there. There’s still memory there and there’s still feelings, of course, for losing Marc and Robin,” she said.
Cameron and Bourdages were shot while pursuing suspect Curtis Dagenais on July 7, 2006. Both members died days later within hours of each other. After a 12-day manhunt, Dagenais was arrested and found guilty of two counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
Szpakowski’s son Luca, now 10, was only nine months old when his father was killed.
“That’s the thing that kind of makes me the most sad, is that I just want to make sure that I honour Marc’s memory and his wishes that I raise our son the best that I can,” she said.
Luca spoke at the ceremony about his father, thanking the community for all their support. He said even though he was only a baby when his father died and doesn’t know the sound of his voice, he thinks about him every day.
“Because remembering him is easy, I do it every day. But here’s an ache within my heart that will never go away,” he said reading a poem penned for his father.
Luca was later honoured with an eagle feather from the chiefs of the surrounding communities. The young boy said he was honoured that after 10 years, so many people still thought about him and his father adding he liked hearing stories about his dad.
“He had a really kind heart and he was nice to everyone. He was helpful and he was trying to make the world a better, safe place,” he said.
Chief Kenneth John Thomas of Witchekan Lake spoke about the impact Cameron and Bourdages had on the community. He said they were the epitome of what the public should expect from police.
“I relive that day and I think about what we’ve lost,” he said. “The enormity of our loss on the day they passed will forever cause me to tear up.”
Thomas said he had a particularly close relationship with Cameron, because his nephew was the father of Cameron’s daughter.
He recalled how Cameron, a young mother herself, facilitated parenting courses and Bourdages led survival camps for young people. He said it’s not every day the community sees that kind of engagement from police.
“The way they sincerely cared about our community of people, it made such an impact on me, both personally and professionally, and I know that they had a great impact on every one of the youth that they worked with,” Thomas said.
The Cameron and Bourdages Memorial Society was presented with a cheque for $2,000 from Kisikohk School at the ceremony. The society raised money for a memorial park for the members in Spiritwood. The park is to eventually have two bronze statues of Cameron and Bourdages.