Canadian soldier killed in Ottawa Parliament attack to be laid to rest

Family's Tribute to Shot Soldier
Family's Tribute to Shot Soldier


(Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and hundreds of mourners are expected to pack into a cathedral in industrial Hamilton, Ontario, on Tuesday for the funeral of the soldier shot dead in last week's attack on the nation's seat of government.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, was one of two soldiers killed in a pair of attacks police said were carried out independently by radical recent converts to Islam at a time when Canada's military is stepping up its involvement in air strikes against Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

The killings have shaken Canadians and prompted a debate on how the nation's open culture, and particularly the low-key security in its capital city of Ottawa, may need to change. Security services have warned that citizens who adopt extremist views and take up arms against the state pose a "serious" threat.

Cirillo was standing an unarmed, ceremonial watch at the nation's war memorial on Oct. 22 when he was shot dead by a man described as troubled and drug addicted. His attacker then charged into the Parliament building and exchanged fire with security officers not far from a room where Harper was meeting with fellow Conservative lawmakers.

Cirillo will have a full military funeral at the 138-year-old gothic Christ's Church Anglican Cathedral in his hometown of Hamilton, west of Toronto. Members of his military unit, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, will participate, dressed in ceremonial kilts, white boots and garters.

It will be the first of two funerals for soldiers slain on Canadian soil, to be followed by a service on Saturday in Longueuil, Quebec, for Patrice Vincent, a 53-year-old warrant officer who was killed on Oct. 20 when a man ran over him and a fellow soldier with his car.

Public mourning for Cirillo began on Friday when thousands of Canadians lined roadways, including the "Highway of Heroes," to view the motorcade that carried his body on the 500 kilometer (310 miles) journey from Ottawa along Lake Ontario to Hamilton.

The funeral procession will begin at 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Tuesday at the military unit's base, with the funeral service to take place an hour later, officials said.

Harper is scheduled to speak, as are Cirillo's cousin, Jenny Holland, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lawrence Hatfield, who had been his commanding officer.


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Cirillo's suspected killer, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, made a video of himself saying the attack was motivated by his opposition to Canadian foreign policy, and also had religious motives.

Officials have also described Vincent's killer, 25-year-old Martin Rouleau, as a man motivated by radical beliefs.

Both attackers were shot dead by security services.

"Terrorism has been a threat to Canada and to the safety and security of Canadians for years," RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told lawmakers on Monday. "However, it does feel as if the events of the last couple of days have led to a sense of loss and vulnerability."

Following Cirillo's funeral, Harper is to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who will travel to Ottawa to express his condolences over the attacks.

"The secretary will emphasize steadfast U.S. support for our Canadian partners, continued close cooperation and a shared approach to countering violent extremism, and our commitment to stand beside our Canadian neighbors and friends," Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, told reporters on Monday.

Cirillo joined the Argylls in 2007, shortly after he graduated from high school. He is survived by his mother, stepfather, two sisters and young son. He also was fond of dogs; in the days after his slaying, images of two of his dogs peering out from under a fence, apparently awaiting their master's return, were widely circulated on social media.

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Originally published