A memorial bench for James Reginald Hayward, who was shot and killed by a Port Hardy RCMP Officer in 2015, has officially been approved by Port Hardy council and his family.
“I have spoken with Mrs. Hayward, they have to do a little bit of fundraising for the plaque, and public works has already been directed to refurbish the bench,” said Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick. “We are hoping to have it done by early spring — we definitely want to have it ready before the anniversary of James’ death.”
Nora Hayward, James’ aunt, was thankful to hear the memorial project is moving forward.
“The majority of the family feels positive about the bench,” said Nora. “We are pleased that council has given us an alternative to the wooden roadside memorial that we suggested be erected.”
Port Hardy council not only approved the memorial bench, but also confirmed they had no plans to remove the current roadside memorial that is located across the road on Granville Street, where James died.
“We are very happy that the public has been so supportive of the memorial project, it truly gave us so much comfort knowing they were backing us up,” added Nora.
Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood stated council and staff made sure they were “respectful to the family, period. We have also consulted with the RCMP to keep them informed of the memorial plans, and there isn’t an issue there.”
He added they are “happy that we found a respectful way to remember James, which is a good thing.”
Back in July of 2015, James Hayward was confronted by the Port Hardy RCMP approximately 300 metres away from the Port Hardy Secondary School track. He moved towards the police with a large knife in his hand and was shot to the ground. Witnesses said Hayward then got up and continued toward the police and was shot again and again fell, this time not getting back up. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
An autopsy was conducted on Hayward July 13, 2015. The pathologist found that there were five entrance wounds, two complete exit wounds and one partial exit wound on Hayward’s body.
The Independent Investigations Office cleared the Port Hardy RCMP officer of any wrongdoing on July 26, 2017.