Kelsey Foote was just expecting to receive a lacrosse stick or two when she approached the Victoria Shamrocks organization looking for help.
But Foote, the fiancée of RCMP Const. Graham Holmes, who died in a snowmobiling accident in Nunavut in April, said she was overwhelmed when the Shamrocks donated more than 200 pounds of lacrosse equipment and jerseys for her to bring back to the children and youth in Kugluktuk, where Holmes last served.
Rod Wood, vice-president of the Victoria Shamrocks Junior A team, presented Foote with the equipment at the Shawnigan Lake RCMP detachment on Aug. 1
“This is very heartwarming and it means the world to me,” Foote said at the detachment.
“I’m good friends with Rod Wood and I asked if he had a few sticks laying around that I could take back up to Kugluktuk when I return to collect the rest of our things. They are very short on lacrosse gear in that fly-in only community.”
Holmes, 30, died on April 6 when his snowmobile went off a 30-metre cliff near Bloody Falls in Kugluk Territorial Park while he was off duty.
He grew up in Shawnigan Lake, where he spent five years as an RCMP officer before he was transferred to Kugluktuk about a year and a half ago.
Holmes was well known for his love of kids and did his best to support them in a community that had one of the highest suicide rates in North America just a few years ago.
Foote said the youth suicide rate in Kugluktuk dropped to near zero after a teacher introduced the kids to lacrosse, but the program was stopped when the teacher left the community.
“Kugluktuk now has a new recreation coordinator and he started the lacrosse program again, but there was little equipment to play with,” she said.
“Graham loved the kids up there and he was always going out of his way to make sure they were having fun. He was really just a big kid himself. I thought I’d help out by approaching the Victoria Shamrocks, but I never expected I’d need extra room on the airplane for all this equipment when I return to Kugluktuk. It’s very touching.”
Wood said the general manager of the Victoria Shamrocks was a police officer in Victoria and was eager to answer the call.
“We just changed our uniforms for this year, so we donated all of our last-year uniforms as well as equipment,” he said.
“We also went to our players to ask for some of the extra equipment they had and they came through big time as well. All together, we came up with a whole truckload of lacrosse equipment. We’re pleased to be doing a small part in keeping the lacrosse program alive in Kugluktuk.”
RCMP Const. Pam Bolton worked with Holmes on Haida Gwaii in 2009, which was his first posting.
She remembers him as a “positive guy” who was a good person to be around.
“He was a very community-oriented person and I find it absolutely heartwarming that so many people helped out to get so much lacrosse equipment to Kugluktuk,” she said.