TYSON WHITNEY PHOTO A roadside memorial for James Hayward on Granville Street in Port Hardy, which is across the street from where he was shot and killed in 2015.

Memorial site for James Reginald Hayward up in the air

Nora Hayward wrote a letter to council requesting to erect a permanent memorial on Granville Street.

Will the District of Port Hardy allow the Hayward/Butters’ families to erect a permanent memorial at the site of James Reginald Hayward’s death?

Nora Hayward, the aunt of James Reginald Hayward who was shot and killed by a Port Hardy RCMP officer back in 2015, wrote a letter dated Sept. 28 to the District of Port Hardy requesting permission to erect a memorial at the site of James’ death.

“My nephew James Reginald Hayward was shot and killed July 8, 2015 at Highway 19 and Granville Street in Port Hardy,” wrote Nora. “My family and I are attempting to come to terms with James’ premature death. This letter and its request are an attempt to assist us with this loss.”

Nora stated the Hayward/Butters’ families “have suffered greatly over the last 2 years — the suffering began with James’ death, followed by the exaggerated time it took the IIO to complete their report; including James’ official cause of death.”

She then requested the district “give the Hayward/Butters’ families permission to erect a dignified, yet simple, memorial at the site of James’ death, or as close as the town deems appropriate. The entire cost for the structure and placement would of course be picked up by the family… This memorial is important to not only the family and friends of James, but also to the town of Port Hardy. It will let the people know that Port Hardy does care, that James’ life did matter, and that this will not just be swept under the rug to be forgotten and ignored.”

After two consecutive council meetings with Nora’s correspondence not being listed on the agenda, the North Island Gazette asked if the district had received the letter. Director of Corporate Services Heather Nelson-Smith confirmed the town does have a copy, and “the letter was reviewed in-camera due to the personal and identifiable nature of the request and it was also considered by council and not staff as it required council to consider the policy.”

When asked if the District of Port Hardy had contacted her regarding the request, Nora replied she has recently received correspondence from the town saying they have denied her request for a wooden memorial.

The town suggested “a memorial bench in lieu of a roadside memorial,” wrote Mayor Hank Bood, adding “the District will re-furbish the bench at the District’s expense. If the family would like to purchase a memorial plaque we would install the plaque on the bench.”

The Hayward/Butters’ families have yet to make a decision regarding the town’s proposal.

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