Thousands of officers dressed in red serge marched in unison in a procession led by an RCMP pipe band, a hearse and riderless horse in the funeral for fallen RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang Wednesday.
The procession in Richmond, B.C., began underneath a large Canadian flag hung between two extended ladders from firefighting trucks, as civilians and firefighters in uniform, poppies pinned to their lapels, lined the streets to watch the march.
Yang, a 31-year-old mental health and homeless outreach officer, was stabbed to death two weeks ago while she and a City of Burnaby employee attempted to issue an eviction notice to a man who had been living in a tent at a local park.
Yang shot the suspect before she died, and B.C.’s police watchdog later said Jongwon Ham underwent surgery for his injuries.
Ham, 37, is accused of first-degree murder in her death and was due in a Vancouver court Wednesday for remand.
Yang, who lived in Richmond, is being honoured by a regimental, or military-style, funeral in accordance with RCMP protocols for an officer who dies in the line of duty.
The RCMP said as many as 2,000 officers from B.C. and across Canada are joined in the procession by members of the Canada Border Services Agency, the Armed Forces, sheriffs, firefighters and B.C. Ambulance Service, while another 1,500 members will also attend the funeral.
RCMP Sgt. Chris Manseau said the turnout is no surprise because an on-duty death impacts every police officer.
“We all look out for each other, we all have each other’s back, and when something tragic like this happens, it’s very detrimental to all of us,” he said in an interview ahead of the procession Wednesday. “I think having a lot of us come together is good for everybody. It’s part of the healing process.”
Yang’s family said in an earlier statement that they are “going through immense grief” but are grateful for the condolences and support they have received, issuing thanks to the RCMP for making the arrangements to formally honour her.
Angel Liu, the director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Taiwan’s de facto diplomatic office in Vancouver, said she attended a private funeral over the weekend with about 400 people, including Yang’s friends and family, colleagues, Richmond city councillors and the mayor.
“Yang’s family members shared with us how excited Yang felt when she first became an RCMP officer and she chose this career from her heart,” Liu said in an interview conducted in Mandarin Wednesday.
“She is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, so I am here to represent the Taiwanese government to pay respect and tribute to Const. Yang.”