Class of 2021
A graduate of Lakeland College Firefighter Training, BJ Fitzpatrick, who works for Suncor Emergency Services, volunteers as a hockey coach, in sports programming, events and camps, and also as an Indigenous Liaison for Suncor.
He spoke with YMM about his involvement in firefighting, in hockey, and what he’s most grateful for.
YMM: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
BF: Receiving the Governor General of Canada Medal of Bravery for an incident that occurred early in my career as a firefighter/EMT is an accomplishment I am most proud of. I had the opportunity to travel with my family to Ottawa and attend the ceremony at Rideau Hall. It was a truly humbling experience because I got to hear all the other stories of heroism from throughout the country as they too received their award.
YMM: Who is your hero?
BF: I have two that I would consider heroes.
First of all, Ted Nolan, former NHL Coach of the Year, because of the constant adversity he takes head-on throughout the years he played and coached. I remember how proud my mom was that he was coaching in the NHL and how he represented our Indigenous people in such a positive light. Watching him coach in the Olympics for Latvia in 2014 was another great moment that I remember being very proud to watch with amazement. I had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with Ted and his son Brandon when they were brought into Fort McKay for their 3 Nolans Hockey camp.
Second of all, Dorothy McDonald, my late aunt. She was a strong and influential leader for Fort McKay and its people, standing up to the big companies so that they would recognize the importance of working with us and not against us. She stood up to companies using Fort McKay as a throughway to let semis and heavy trucks drive through the community with little regard for its members. Her dedication to her people helped spearhead other opportunities for Fort Mckay to become a self-sustaining and contributing entity in the oil business.
YMM: What is the best advice you ever received?
BF: Respect your elders. There are so many people I look back on now and think of how they influenced the person I have become, teachers, coaches, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents and all the great things they’ve taught me. I am constantly learning from others and hope that I can pass on some wisdom to others.