After receiving the Memorial Cross in memory of her son Greg on Wednesday morning, Lorraine Matters said she plans to keep it on prominent display for a while.
Just over a year after Greg was killed during a police incident in Pineview, Lorraine and her daughter Tracey were awarded the Memorial Cross by the Canadian government as a symbol of the sacrifice Greg made during his career in the military.
"It means that the government has recognized Greg's service to our country," Lorraine said shortly after the emotional ceremony concluded at the Connaught Youth Centre. "Greg was a brave, caring solider and he's been recognized as one."
The Memorial Cross, also known as the Silver Cross, has been handed out to the mothers of fallen Canadian soldiers since 1919. In recent years, veterans have been able to designate up to three Memorial Cross recipients in the event of their death.
Although Greg didn't die on the battlefield, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from his deployment during a peacekeeping mission Bosnia in 2001 when he was shot by a member of the RCMP's emergency response team last year.
Lorraine and Tracey found out in April that the Canadian government was awarding the medals and they said it shows the military understands the effects PTSD has on veterans.
"I think it's wonderful that the government has recognized post-traumatic stress disorder as an injury that potentially contributed to a death," Tracey said. "We hope that this raises the level of awareness around post-traumatic stress disorder in and outside of the services."
After dealing with the emotions surrounding the anniversary of Greg's death on Sept. 10, the family is now preparing for a coroner's inquest into the events leading up to the shooting. The inquest is set to open on Oct. 7 at the Prince George Courthouse.
Tracey said receiving the medals on Wednesday was comforting and an important step as the family continues to grapple with their grief.
"We still have a few milestones that we have to go through, but this is certainly part of the healing process," she said.
As Greg's best friend in the military, warrant officer Ryan Seguin was selected by the Matters' family as the best person to present the memorial cross. Seguin shared some memories of his fallen friend before pinning the silver crosses on Lorraine and Tracey.
"It was a great honour, it's one of the biggest honours I've had in my military career," Seguin said. "I was so happy when Tracey contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do this and I'm so happy I was able to get out here to do it."
Seguin said it was important for the government to recognize the families of veterans like Greg, who died in the years after his service was formally completed.
"It means that my buddy didn't die in vain and the government recognizes his injuries, which were caused in Bosnia," Seguin said. "Now his family will always have a memory that Greg did something very, very important."
Major Rick Lewis hosted the half-hour ceremony, which included the singing of O Canada, words of remembrance from chaplain Susan Scott and the Act of Remembrance from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 34 president Bruce Gabriel.
Friends and family also attended Greg's grave for a subsequent ceremony and the laying of a wreath.
Both Lorraine and Tracey plan to wear their medals proudly. Tracey said she will also display the medal when she volunteers with veterans events in her adopted home country of Australia.