Brayden Gale’s family takes comfort from a positive outcome after his tragic death in 2015 at the age of 22 that could help to save someone else’s life.
Gale’s mom Laura Robertson and his sister Shar Gale gather every Nov. 25 at Chemainus Lake where Brayden Gale was fishing on a cold November morning seven years ago. The canoe he was in with a friend capsized and he never made it to shore.
While the death was determined as a drowning, Brayden actually died from hypothermia, Robertson said.
It was an unfortunate incident that could have been prevented with the presence of a life ring. Since then, the device is readily accessible at Chemainus Lake and also at Fuller Lake, Somenos Lake and two locations in Maple Bay as a result of what happened to Brayden.
Robertson said she still thinks about him every day.
“But I will say this kind of thing is getting easier and so thankful for people like you who bring him front and centre. He’s not forgotten.”
She added the family usually tries to do something on the anniversary day or his March 28 birthdate that Brayden enjoyed.
In 2017, for Shar that involved overcoming her fear of flying. She braved the elements and flew a plane at the Victoria Flying Club.
On last Friday’s anniversary, Laura and her husband Bill and Shar laid flowers at Chemainus Lake. It’s hard for them to fathom what happened there on that fateful day.
“As sad as the whole thing has been, if it was his time as I believe it was, look at this place,” said Robertson. “It’s a beautiful place.”
That’s what attracted Brayden to the site in the first place. He had just returned to the Island two days earlier from Alberta where he’d been working. Brayden had decided he wanted to go back to school to become a paramedic.
“He knew he didn’t want to go back to the oilfields and live in camps ever again,” noted Robertson.
The peaceful fishing expedition he was enjoying with a friend went horribly wrong when they were only about 30 feet from the dock. The friend made it to shore through the weeds, but Brayden went for the dock and didn’t make it after trying to salvage his tackle box and his boots.
Brayden’s interest in flying allowed him to obtain a pilot’s licence before he had a driver’s licence. He also had a great interest in many sports as well as enjoying the great outdoors.
“As a family, we’re always wondering what it would be like, where would he be today?” pondered Robertson.
There is a Facebook page known as The Legacy of Brayden Gale that has 244 members and keeps his memory alive, especially as each anniversary goes by.
Robertson has also hooked up with a group of other mothers who’ve lost their sons tragically over the years to share camaraderie and friendship. And it’s been special for the family to have Brayden among the seven people honoured and remembered during the Cowichan Valley Memorial Midget Hockey Tournament that evolved from the Ryan Clark Memorial.
Shar said there are so many aspects of Brayden’s presence she misses. “Just his sense of humour and his big heart – just always positive and happy, lit up a room,” she said.
“He had the biggest heart of anybody you’d ever know,” added Robertson. “He wanted to give all the time. His personality, he was just this kid who was always positive, always happy.
“Until you’ve lost somebody so close, you don’t quite grasp it.”
With life rings in place at several key places, there’s no chance anyone else will have to endure the same circumstances.