On March 3, 2020, Portage College and the Lac La Biche County announced the creation of a memorial endowment to honour the fallen four, specifically Leo N. Johnston of Lac La Biche, Alberta on the 15th anniversary of their tragic deaths.
Constable Johnston’s life was cut short along with Constable Myrol, Constable Schiemann and Constable Gordon on March 3, 2005 when they were attacked during the execution of a search warrant for stolen property and a marijuana-growing operation on a farm in Mayerthorpe.
Constable Johnston was born and raised in the Lac La Biche area, where many of his family still reside. Leo was an extraordinary individual who overcame an almost fatal motorcycle accident in 1997. Through hard work and determination he relearned to walk and talk. After he recovered he decided to pursue a career in the RCMP and became an officer on April 17, 2001. Leo was an important member of the Mayerthorpe Detachment where he was admired for his energy and great sense of humour. He was a dedicated member of the Force and took his role very seriously.
In August 2005, there was discussion with then Lakeland County Mayor Peter Kirylchuk and Leo’s mother & father, Mrs. Grace & Mr. Ron Johnston, about establishing an ongoing Memorial Bursary and Scholarship. The County invited community individuals and/or businesses to contribute to the Scholarship Fund. On June 28, 2006, a memorandum of agreement between Lakeland County and Portage College was signed, to fund an annual Bursary and Scholarship with the intent to continue fundraising to build sufficient funds for a permanent endowment. On March 3, 2020, those involved were pleased to announce that the goal of a permanent endowment had been achieved through the support of Lac La Biche County, Leo’s family and friends, and the community.
The award is for academic achievement for students registered in programming that will lead to further their education in a law enforcement related field of studies (i.e. law enforcement, military, correctional officer, conservation officer, criminologist, park ranger, and can include ACP, PCP, EMR, firefighter, wildland fire-fighter, heavy equipment operator, and university studies that move into any of the above mentioned careers). This award has served as a reminder to students of Leo’s example of determination, commitment and bravery as they pursue their own careers.
From the date of the awards inception in 2006, 45 students have been awarded in Leo Johnston’s memory. With the change from an award to an endowment, an everlasting legacy was created that will see students awarded for their commitment in honour of the fallen four and to the memory of Leo Johnston as a community hero.
The 15th anniversary event for the endowment announcement also included the unveiling of a framed photo of the fallen four donated to the Lac La Biche County from Leo Johnston’s parents. It hangs in McArthur Place in Lac La Biche, Alberta.
If you wish to donate to the endowment, please contact Rick Flumian, Manager of Community Relations by email or 780-623-5591.