Ten years later, the memory of Const. Christopher Worden remains as strong as ever in Hay River, where he fell in the line of duty in 2007.
On Oct. 6 – the 10th anniversary of the RCMP officer’s death – a solemn procession and candlelight vigil was held to remember his sacrifice for the town.
“The RCMP thanks the community of Hay River for remembering Chris each year and every year,” said Chief Supt. Jamie Zettler, commanding officer of the RCMP’s G Division. “Your dedication in keeping his memory alive is admirable and our members are encouraged and our lives are enriched by it.”
The chief superintendent joined other officers from Yellowknife, members of the Hay River Detachment and community residents – about 60 people in all – for the remembrance.
Zettler read a message from Worden’s widow Jodie and her daughter Alexis, who was an infant when her father was killed.
“There are not many days that go by where I do not think of the time Chris, Alexis and I spent in the North,” Jodie Worden wrote. “They are treasured memories for me, made mostly by the people we met and the support we received both while Chris served in your community and after he was no longer able to do so. Alexis is now 10 years old and I get to share stories of the sights, sounds and people we met and the everlasting impact that they had on our lives.”
Jodie Worden, who has worked as a leadership consultant in the RCMP since 2009, wrote that she and her daughter would not have been able to enjoy a positive connection with the North and the RCMP if not for the support and strength they drew from the people of the NWT, especially those in Hay River.
“I still have all of the cards, letters, feathers, sweet grass, books, quilts, artwork and tokens of kindness that were bestowed upon my family,” she wrote. “I continue to draw strength from them.”
Zettler also read a message from Worden’s parents and family, who thanked Hay River for continuing to honour his memory.
“It’s seems as if it was only yesterday when we attended our first memorial service on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, out at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre,” the family wrote. “What a heartwarming event you organized and presented in support of our family. We have not forgotten the kindness shown to us in those early years and days, nor the annual remembrance since then. We are forever grateful.”
His family noted Worden, who was 30 at the time of his death, loved being a member of the RCMP.
“RCMP members live and work in unforgiving environments that can change in a second,” they wrote. “Let us all take a moment to reflect on the memories of Chris we share and to honour the life and courage of a member taken far too soon from this Earth.”
Zettler told those gathered for the remembrance that Worden, after becoming a Mountie in 2002, served all his time in the RCMP in the Northwest Territories – Yellowknife, Whati and then Hay River from 2005 until his death.
The commanding officer, while noting he did not know Worden personally, said the constable is remembered in the RCMP as a positive, fun-loving colleague who helped people no matter who they were.
“He is described as a sheepdog, fearless when it came to protecting those who could not protect themselves,” said Zettler, who added Worden was also community minded and driven. “Chris left a big imprint on those he came in contact with as we can see by the support here today for Chris’ memory. He left an imprint not only on his RCMP memories, but as a friend, son, brother, husband and father.”
The Town of Hay River was represented at the remembrance by Coun. Steve Anderson, who said the community remembers Worden’s sacrifice.
“We must never forget that sacrifice this police officer made,” he added. “Chris was a family man. Chris was a dedicated police officer. Chris was always there when you needed him. And Chris indeed was part of our community.”
Anderson recognized the service of the RCMP to Hay River and communities across Canada.
“We can never repay the debt that we owe Const. Worden and to every officer that serves and protects Hay River and across our land,” said the councillor.
Many at the candlelight vigil knew Worden.
That included Stacey Barnes, the executive assistant with the Town of Hay River and the organizer of the vigil.
Barnes said it is important to remember Worden and his family.
“Chris was a very family-oriented, a very community-minded person,” she said, noting he loved sports and working with children in schools.
April Glaicar, a community resident, also knew Worden.
“It’s important to remember that Chris and other officers give the ultimate sacrifice of themselves to protect our communities,” said Glaicar.
Worden was shot and killed in the early morning hours of Oct. 6, 2007.
His killer, a drug trafficker from Edmonton, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the chance of parole for 25 years.