Like most youth in Fernie, I grew up playing soccer. Youth Soccer, High School soccer, Ladies’ Soccer. It’s what you did every spring and summer, and it was a lot of fun. Especially playing at the Joseph Caufield and July Fest tournaments. I remember a time when I thought I wasn’t too bad… and then I saw Eirin Amundsen take the field. Completely mesmerized by her agility and ball control, she was on a completely different level. But, the benefit of being on a team with Eirin is that she made us all better.
On January 7, 2015 Eirin was killed in a tragic motor vehicle accident. As a dedicated soccer coach and athlete, a Registered Nurse at the Elk Valley Hospital, family member and friend, the entire community felt this loss and many were searching of a way to honour her memory.
Todd Loewen, a physician in Fernie who is heavily involved with Fernie Youth Soccer was one of these individuals. He was connected with Eirin on multiple levels, from being a neighbour on Anderson Road to working with her at the hospital. It wasn’t until he was coaching the U17 Girls team that he was able to appreciate her talent as a soccer player.
“I was refereeing and the girls team I was coaching was mixed in playing with the women’s team, and I was impressed with how skilled she was on the field and had no idea that she was such a great playerand team player,” he says. “After she passed away, we were at a medical staff meeting and the physicians of the hospital were talking about the loss that everyone was suffering from and we were wondering what we could do. I suggested that maybe, thinking about her love and involvement in soccer, and that those fields needed a shade structure, that maybe we could fundraise for something like that.”
The nurses who worked closely withEirin were also looking for a way to express their grief and remember her by. “Vanessa Stamler and Amanda Green thought a pavilion was a great idea too, and we started a committee to see if it was something we could do.” At first they thought $15,000 would cover their needs, but they decided they neededsomeone with more project management and carpentry skills so approached Andre Bloemink. “Laura wheeled him in, and I got him to commit,” says Todd. Shirley Mercier was also a key addition, as the Hospital Administrator and once they discussed the project with Eirin’s family, her mom Shirley and brother Nels also became part of the team. “Recently Randal Macnair has been helping out. It’s been two years, and it’s time to get it done,” he adds.
The group started having meetings every month, to iron out the grant applications, fundraising events, attracting individual donations. To date, they have raised over $100,000 but ideally need another $50,000 to complete the project. The scale of the pavilion will allow the community to host numerous soccer tournaments that will draw people to the community during the shoulder seasons. It is also a multiuse structure, providing washrooms for those hiking, biking or running nearby, shelter for a picnic, and will even be large enough for ceremonies, events, and photos. “The scenery from the fields is amazing, and the structure will be impressive,” says Todd. He believes that we have a unique environment here and with the pavilion, can offer the community and those visiting a special space.
Everyone the group has discussed theproject with wants to get on board. It’s the coordinating, creating a timeline and finalizing the fundraising that are the final challenges. “When we start, we want to finish. I am optimistic that we can get it there this fall,” says Todd. This dream team is running out of fundraising energy, so are looking to the community for support and donations to help get the Eirin Amundsen Memorial Pavilion off the ground. “It’s a good opportunity to not only get the project done, but it also could be an exercise that brings everyone in the community together in a positive way.” Todd recalls Amish Barn Raising, saying it could be “a common goal that we can all work towards, that will benefit Fernie and help us all to remember Eirin.”
For those keen to offer support of any kind, please email eirinamundsenpavilion@ gmail.com or call 250-423-8944. There is also a go fund me page for donations, Gofundme.com/eirinamundsen. The Eirin Amundsen Memorial Pavilion Committee would like to recognize partners and contributors including the City of Fernie, TECK, Columbia Basin Trust, RDEK, Highline 100, Fernie Rotary, Fernie Brewing Company, College of the Rockies and numerous other local businesses and residents who have helped them get so close to reaching their goal.
Let’s make this happen, Fernie! See you at the barn raising this fall.
1. When did you first arrive in Fernie and what brought you here?
I first came for residency training in 1993, but then moved here in 1997… for a combination of work and skiing. What else is new?
2. Where did you first live in town?
We first lived in what was called SuddabyManor on 5th Ave. And then eventually moved up to Anderson Road, bought a trailer on 5 acres and built a house there.
3. What was your first impression?
My first impression on the community developed over a year of living here. It was a welcoming, active community that felt like home.
4. What keeps you in Fernie?
It continues to be that community.
5. Do you have a favourite Fernie memory?
We have an annual thing we do at the end of the ski season, where we ski out the bottom of Cedar Bowl to Gorbie Trail and find a place to picnic, build a ski jump and spend the afternoon with chips, pop, beer, sunshine and snow with family and friends.
6. What is your favourite time of the year in Fernie and why?
I love Fernie for its distinct four seasons,each one of which has its own highlight. Growing up in North Vancouver, I really missed winter. I pined for it!
7. Where do you see Fernie in 5 to 10 years?
Hopefully growing into a diverse, sustainable community that still has coal mining and logging at its heart but an economy diversified enough that it can withstand economic downturns and eventual depletion of natural resources… while maintaining its community feel.
8. How do you start your day or what is one of your daily rituals?
The way I would like to start my day is with a swim or bike or a ski... but that only happens 20% of the time. Otherwise it starts with coffee, family breakfast and driving the kids to school.
9. Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you.
I like to garden.
10. Quote to live by:
Carpe Diem – seize the day.