MONCTON, N.B. – Nadine Larche appeared to choke back tears as she spoke of how her husband used to run along the riverfront in Moncton, steps away from where the slain RCMP officer has been immortalized in a bronze statue.
The monument of Doug Larche and two other officers, who died after being targeted by a gunman, was unveiled on Saturday in a small park next to the Petitcodiac River on the second anniversary of the tragedy.
It features life-size statues of Larche and officers Dave Ross and Fabrice Gevaudan. There are also personal touches to honour the three constables, their families and the Moncton community.
There are imprints of Larche’s sneakers and running medals at the base of his statue. His section also features ballet slippers for his daughters, who love to dance.
“There could be no better place to bring Doug home than to right here … He loved to run and he ran on these very trails that we see here, ” Nadine Larche told the dozens of people who attended the memorial event under cloudy skies.
“When the girls and I come to visit and to reflect, we will know that Doug is close and watching over us. I truly hope that others will get peace and healing visiting this honour garden.”
The wives of the fallen Mounties — Larche, Rachel Ross and Angela Gevaudan — all spoke at the ceremony, as well as New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant and George LeBlanc, who was the mayor of Moncton at the time of the shootings.
The families of the three Mounties smiled and clapped as they pulled black sheets from the statues. Eleven Mounties wearing the red serge created a semi-circle around the monument and bowed their heads as it was blessed.
Morgan MacDonald, the Newfoundland-based artist who created the monument, said he wanted to respect the legacy and memory of the three men.
MacDonald involved the families in the entire process, bringing some family members to his foundry in Logy Bay, N.L., to discuss the project and to have them work with clay.
“In this place on honour, what we have created will endure. It will last for centuries. Generations will come and go, but these sculptures will remain,” said MacDonald.
The monument features the three men wearing different uniforms — Larche in the red serge, Gevaudan in the working patrol uniform, and Ross in the uniform of a dog master.
The details of each uniform are intricate. One can clearly see boot laces, belt buckles and bulging pockets.
Gevaudan mastered a range of skills during his career, and there are imprints of challenge coins he earned for such things as becoming a member of the underwater recovery team.
Around the statues is a maple leaf element, with leaves for each family, the area communities, and for local schools. Earlier this year, 1,500 people turned out to provide impressions of their thumb prints that were later cast into the bronze leaves.
Fredericton-based retired police Const. Scott Dixon trained with Dave Ross in a canine unit. He said the monument offers a space for him to come and reflect.
“Dave and I were very close. The canine unit is very closely bonded unit, so it means a lot to come here and reflect. It’s very special for me,” said the 47-year-old Dixon just after the ceremony.
“This is a fantastic place for the people of Moncton, as well as New Brunswick and certainly the rest of Canada to come and walk the river and reflect on what happened and move forward.”
The three men were among the police officers who responded to a neighbourhood in the west end of the city following reports of a man with a gun. Justin Bourque walked past civilian residents that he encountered, choosing only to shoot at police.
He was captured following a 30-hour manhunt that gripped the city with fear. Bourque is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 75 years.