Sarah Beckett was remembered Sunday as a kind and caring soul who wanted to do more for her community after donning her RCMP uniform for the first time.
A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people walked with candles in a silent procession along Goldstream Avenue on a mild night to honour the fallen West Shore RCMP constable.
With the crowd of friends, colleagues and supportive community members packed tightly around the cenotaph in Veteran’s Memorial Park, Beckett’s colleague, Cpl. Scott Hilderley recalled first meeting Beckett when she was in high school at Spectrum Community School.
She had signed up for the Greater Victoria Police Camp, which put teens through their paces and gave them a taste of the physical and mental demands of police work. Afterward, Hilderley said, Beckett told him, “This is what I want to do.”
He connected with her upon her graduation from RCMP Depot a couple years later, when she told him that her dream had come true. Sent to Port McNeill for her first assignment, she contacted Hilderley later to say she “wanted to do more;” she wanted to not only work to catch criminals but work to help people find the good in themselves.
That led her to learn to be a DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) facilitator with the RCMP and through that work she was able to give back even more, Hilderley said, and touch the lives of young people in her communities.
The sombre ceremony at the park, hosted by event organizer Ryan Carveth, also included a performance of the Sarah McLachlan song “Angel” by Stephanie Greaves, accompanied by Jann Arden keyboardist Darcy Phillips; and words of support from Janelle Breese Biagoni, whose police officer husband, Gerald Breese, was killed in a motorcycle crash while on active duty.
Terri Smith of Highlands was among those who attended. Having found Carveth’s posting on Facebook that day, she decided to come down and join the community in this healing event.
“I felt it was just important to show my feelings and also to support the people that have to go on,” she said, “the police officers that have to carry on and do their jobs. This is my neighbourhood and I wanted to be here to show solidarity.”
Beckett’s official memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at The Q Centre. A parade of an estimated 4,000 police and other emergency responders is scheduled to march up Island Highway from Wilfert Road near the Great Canadian Casino, to the arena starting at 1 p.m.