OTTAWA – A young constable gunned down in northern Quebec was remembered Saturday as a community-minded “superman” who packed a tremendous amount of living into his 27 years.
Steve Dery, a three-year veteran of the Kativik Regional Police Service — his first policing job — was shot and killed last week while answering a call at a home in the community of Kuujjuaq.
More than 800 police officers marched in procession behind a pipe band up Sussex Drive as Dery was accorded full police honours in the national capital, his home town.
All police funerals are family affairs, but Dery’s had a particular poignancy.
He was the second of three boys born to a former RCMP officer, and also has a cousin on the national police force in New Brunswick. One of Dery’s brothers is a firefighter in Ottawa.
A massive Canadian flag was hoisted from two aerial ladder trucks over the street outside the cathedral.
While Steve Dery was a dare devil — he’s participated in the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and liked bungie jumping — he was also well versed in the dangers of policing.
It made for an extremely intimate funeral, despite the massive crowd.
Yet another Mountie, family friend Robert Leclerc, struggled to read a letter written this week by the slain Mountie’s father, Gilles Dery, who called his son a “great police officer. You are a hero.”
“You are so complete at 27 years of age,” wrote his admiring father.
He recalled his son’s prowess at every sport, from hockey to baseball, lacrosse and rugby.
“Thank you for these memories,” Leclerc read from the letter, his voice faltering several times.
“I’m going to think of you every day.”
Dery and his partner came under fire after responding to a call at a residence in Kijjuaq, a village with a population of 2,400, making it the largest community in the region. His partner was seriously wounded.
A woman fled the residence unharmed while the man suspected of shooting the officers was found dead inside the house — an apparent suicide — hours later.
The chief of the Kativik Regional Police Service said working in a small isolated northern community where everyone knows everybody brought the force closer.
“These are the words we never want to have to say,” Aileen MacKinnon told the cathedral filled with police. “On Saturday, Mar. 2, I lost one of my boys when Constable Steven Dery lost his life by doing the job he loved.”
She called Dery “our superman.”
“We all wanted to work as hard as he worked.”
MacKinnon recalled a mother telling her about how Dery saved her suicidal 14-year-old daughter’s life.
And she described a young woman in court last week who tearfully told a judge that Dery’s last words to her were that he didn’t want to put her in jail.
“He knew the people of the community and he knew that what she needed was not to be put in jail,” said the police chief. “But that was his job.”
The Ottawa Police Services helped arrange the funeral after consulting with Dery’s family and the Kativik police. Chief Charles Bordeleau said any time an officer is killed it is difficult for the entire police fraternity.
“Although his death was a tragedy, I think what you saw today is over 800 members of police services from far and wide come over and recognize the ultimate sacrifice that Steve paid for his community.”
A moment of silence was held in Dery’s honour last Monday in the House of Commons.