Greater Victoria firefighters will face off on the ice at Esquimalt in the first Ken Gill and Forrest Owens Memorial Hockey Game later this month.
Held at the Archie Browning Sports Complex, the friendly was aimed at raising awareness of the mental health and cancer rates affecting firefighters and communities in the Capital Region.
Ken Gill has a distinguished 33-year firefighting career with the Ministry of Defence, Langford, Sydney and Oak Bay Fire Services. He took his own life in 2018.
Forrest Owens has served the Central Saanich community for 35 years as a volunteer firefighter, captain and career assistant fire chief. He died of occupational cancer in 2022.
Occupational cancer is the leading cause of death in the fire department, and first responders who have experienced multiple traumatic events are at higher risk for post-traumatic stress.
Victorian medical oncologist Dr Kenneth Kunz will be at the event to speak to firefighters and their families about cancer and the impact of firefighting.
“Throughout their careers, firefighters are exposed to events that challenge their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being,” Kunz said in a news release. “Events like the Esquimalt Hockey Championships allow civilians and firefighters to come together in a way that strengthens the protection fabric of society and keeps us connected on the front lines.”
The competition also launched the Forrest Owens and Ken Gill Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to two outstanding Esquimalt High School students for their positive role models in the community later this spring.
“The impact of cancer and the impact on fire brigade mental health is significant – bringing awareness to this issue is something we feel strongly about. We want to honor Forrest and Ken by supporting young people in our community,” Esquimalt Fire Chief Steve Selbic said.
“This is the first year of the fellowship scheme and we are proud to see the support from across the greater Victorian sector.”
The competition will take place on March 25 and is open to the public.Additional details on the game can be found at Township website and Facebook.
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Esquimalt Firefighters Greater Victoria Hockey West Bank