1994: Death of Toronto Cst. Todd Baylis Sparks Creation of Memorial Ribbon
In 1994 a young Toronto police officer, Cst. Todd Baylis, was killed on duty. Cst. Shawn Coady, working general patrol for the Vancouver Police Department, heard about this loss through the grapevine at work. Although the slaying did make the local Vancouver press, Shawn noticed that it received only brief mention in the middle of the newspaper under a small heading. Shawn found it frustrating that he had no way of mourning the loss of a fellow officer, and no way to honour this officer's ultimate sacrifice.
Shawn went home and shared his concerns with his wife Diane. He came up with an idea that would permit all officers to mourn such tragic losses, and open an avenue to remember the ultimate sacrifice paid by Police Officers killed in the line of duty. He developed a blue over black ribbon, looped at the top (similar to other commemorative ribbons), with the Vancouver Police coat of arms badge pinned in the middle. The black expressed the mourning of a loss, the blue stood for 'the thin Blue line', and the generic badge represented all Police and Peace Officers.
Shawn wore the ribbon on his uniform at work to honour Cst. Baylis. Many people asked him what the ribbon was meant to signify, which allowed Shawn to express his feelings in relation to the death of another Officer serving his community. Diane thought it was a great idea and wanted to wear one as well.
1994: Ribbon Endorsed by Vancouver Police Department
In 1994, Shawn approached the Vancouver Police Department about formally adopting his Ribbon Campaign, and it was officially endorsed by the Department that year.
Every Officer Shawn spoke with thought that the Memorial Ribbon was an important initiative, one that would allow members of the policing community to express their grief and solidarity upon the death of an Officer. Over the next few years, the Ribbon was worn by VPD Officers whenever a Police Officer died "in the line of duty".
1998: Ribbon Endorsed by BC Federation of Police Officers & BC Municipal Association of Chiefs of Police
In 1998 the BC Federation of Police Officers and the BC Municipal Association of Chiefs of Police endorsed the Memorial Ribbon in time for BC's first Police and Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony.
Shawn set to work in having 1,000 ribbons made for the Memorial Ceremony. Borrowing money from the Vancouver Police Mutual Benevolence Association, Shawn had one company make a generic badge emblazoned with the Canadian Coat of Arms and the word "Police", and engaged a second company to loop the ribbons and pin them together with the generic badge. The Ribbon was sold by donation at the Memorial Ceremony to municipal, RCMP, American, Japanese, and other law enforcement officers and their family and friends.
The sale of the Memorial Ribbon at the first BC Police and Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony was an overwhelming success. Enough money was made from the donations to pay back the loan and make more Ribbons.
1998: Government of Canada Poclaims Last Sunday of September as "Police & Peace Officers' National Memorial Day"
On September 24, 1998, the Government of Canada officially proclaimed the last Sunday of September of every year as Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day. The Solicitor General of Canada stated that "a formal, national Memorial Day gives Canadians an opportunity each year to formally express appreciation for the dedication of Police and Peace Officers, who make the ultimate, tragic sacrifice to keep communities safe." Police and Peace Officers from all over Canada gather in Ottawa and march to the Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Pavilion on Parliament Hill, where all fallen Officers are remembered and their sacrifices honoured.
The uniform hats of the Officers who have died in this past year are placed on the steps of the Memorial Pavilion and given a salute to honour their sacrifice to society. This salute is also given each year to honour and remember all the Officers who have died "in the line of duty".
1998-2000: Ribbon Endorsed by the Canadian Police Association, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the RCMP
Between 1998 and 2000, the Peace Officers' Memorial Ribbon was endorsed nationally by the Canadian Police Association, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The ribbon is now commonly worn at memorials across the country.
2000: Formation of Memorial Ribbon Society
In 2000, founder Shawn Coady assembled a Board of Directors made up of active and retired Police and Peace Officers, and the Peace Officers Memorial Ribbon Society was officially incorporated on on November 14, 2000.
In June 2006 the Society changed its name from the Peace Officers' Memorial Ribbon Society to the Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Ribbon Society, in an effort to encompass all officers protecting our communities, including the Military Police Officers that have paid the ultimate price for their service in the Canadian Armed Forces.
2008: National Charity Status
On January 1, 2008, the Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Ribbon Society received national charity status, allowing the Society to broaden its work in honouring fallen Police and Peace Officers and their families across the country.
2009: International Initiatives
In 2009, the Society began working to make the distinctive Memorial Ribbon an international symbol of awareness and mourning for the death of Police and Peace Officers killed in the line of duty.
See Information for Policing Agencies for information on the Society's international outreach.