A crowd of close to 50 people stood quietly in Hatzic Cemetery on Friday morning, remembering a fallen friend, comrade and troop mate.
A half century after RCMP Cst. Kenneth Kornelson died, his fellow police officers finally had the chance to say goodbye.
Kornelson, a recruit from Mission, was accidentally electrocuted while swimming in the pool at the RCMP Academy “Depot” in Regina on May 17, 1965.
The ceremony, which recognized the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, was organized by Staff Sergeant Major John A. Buis who said he was motivated to do something after hearing the story of Kornelson’s death and reading the written account. He said that after Kornelson’s death at the depot in Regina, his body was quickly taken back to Mission for a proper funeral. However his troop mates could not attend.
“All they had were the memories of him and a very short service in the chapel without Ken’s remains being there,” said Buis.
“This (Friday’s ceremony) was a way for them to properly say goodbye and it was quite emotional, for many of us.”
Buis said that many of the troop mates had wanted this for a long time. Ten of them showed up for the service.
“A lot of people don’t quite understand, but when you go through training there are 32 in your troop and you become like a family. So they lost a member of their family,” he said.
One of Kornelson’s troop mates, Jim Simpson, brought his two sons to the ceremony, both are in the RCMP as well.
Also attending the event was Mission Mayor Randy Hawes, Coun. Jim Hinds and representative from the Mission RCMP, including Insp. Ted De Jager who told those in attendance that the memorial service will become an annual event.
“He is a member of the (RCMP) family, so that was a commitment that I made at the memorial that we will remember him,” said De Jager. “Although it was a short service, his service, it was every bit as meaningful as anyone else’s.”
“It’s important to have that understanding of the sacrifices that our members throughout the years have made.”
De Jager was impressed with the ceremony, especially the fact that members of Kornelson’s troop were in attendance.
“They’ve been long since retired so having them come out was amazing.”
One issue that both De Jager and Buis would like to see resolved is, despite the fact Kornelson was officially on duty, training in the pool, when he passed away his name has still not been added to the RCMP’s Honour Roll.
Ten years ago one of his troop mates, John Mitchell submitted documents to the RCMP to get the oversight corrected. Those documents were forwarded to the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial, which is separate from the RCMP.
“It was accepted and his name went up on the cenotaph just outside parliament,” said Buis.
However, Kornelson’s name is still not on the RCMP memorial and that’s the next step that Buis wants to see happen. He plans to file new papers to get Kornelson’s sacrifice officially recognized.
The RCMP Honour Roll is located in Regina.