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Cowichan firefighters teeing off for fallen comrades

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  • Cowichan firefighters teeing off for fallen comrades

    Cowichan firefighters teeing off for fallen comrades

    By Don Bodger - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
    Published: May 22, 2011 5:00 PM

    The Cowichan Valley is playing a special role in the building of a monument for fallen Canadian firefighters in Ottawa.

    The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation is holding its western memorial golf tournament in the valley for the third straight year. The last two were held at Cowichan Golf and Country Club and this year’s event is slated for the Arbutus Ridge Golf and Country Club in Cobble Hill on Saturday, May 28. The deadline for entries is May 21, although people won’t be turned away up to the last minute if space permits.

    Despite a mounting total of 1,082 Canadian firefighters who have died in the line of duty over the years, including three from the valley — Alan Campbell of Duncan in 1960, Bob Evans of Cowichan Bay in 2002 and Dustin Engel of Sahtlam in 2004 — and a yearly ceremony on Parliament Hill on the second Sunday in September, there is still no actual structure to pay tribute to them all.

    “It’s been about a 10-year battle,’’ said Wayne Jesper of Shawnigan Lake, who’s on the board of directors of the CFFF.

    “Even foreign diplomats have a national monument in Ottawa,’’ he added. “The number of firefighters is more than double.’’

    The golf tournament also directs funds to scholarships and education for preventing further deaths.

    A tournament for eastern-based firefighters in the Toronto area got the ball rolling for the Cowichan event, according to Duncan firefighter Rob Laver. “It’s just starting to grow,’’ he said.

    “It started as a fundraiser and an awareness pretty much as every golf tournament is,’’ added Jesper. “The intent is to grow this to multiple cities across the country.’’

    The CFFF does numerous fundraising activities, but this one has been gathering steam as a great way to generate camaraderie among both firefighters and supporters.

    “This is one that allows everyone to come out and get involved,’’ said Jesper.

    A minimum of 75 players is needed, with space for as many as 144.

    “It kind of helps bring all of the departments together at the same time,’’ said Jesper.

    Because the building of a monument is in the works, the tournament takes on a greater significance.

    “It won’t be completed in time for this year’s ceremony,’’ said Jesper.

    But it will likely be ready for September of 2012 and the firemen can’t wait for that moment, doing all they can in the meantime to make it happen.

    The CFFF’s fundraising goal is also to give out two scholarships a year and up to 10 bursaries to assist families of fallen firefighters.

    The cost for golf, a cart, dinner and prizes is $125 per person. Jesper can be contacted for information at 250-361-6092.

    The first Cowichan tournament raised $5,000 and the total reached $7,700 last year. The goal is $10,000 this year, Jesper said.

    “The main goal is even though this is a tournament with a sombre reason behind it, it’s open to anyone — all levels.’’

    “It’s not just money for a memorial,’’ stressed Laver. “It supports the families along the way.’’

    PHOTOCREDIT: Duncan firefighter Rob Laver, left, and Shawnigan firefighter Wayne Jesperare getting things tied up for golf fundraiser to build a memorial for fallen firefighters.
    Andrew Leong
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