It was a small gathering that came together at the Station House Restaurant in Barriere last Thursday, but a gathering that created a lasting legacy in the name of Donnie Nicholson who passed away suddenly on January 25, 2013.
Board members of the North Thompson Communities Foundation (NTCF) came together with Donnie’s mother, Jo-Ann Kivari, in creating a lasting bursary for students wishing to go into the trades. Jo-Ann was there to officially present $5,050 that had been raised by Donnie’s friends and family to create the bursary in his name. The Communities Foundation was there to accept the funds and to match them – creating a total bursary fund of $10,100 at this time.
NTCF chair Barry Banford said, “This is a special event. The Foundation is happy to create a legacy for Donnie and the trades profession that he chose. We are really happy to give a bursary that immediately doubles to $10,100 for the trades. This bursary will go on for 50 years to 100 years from now – forever.”
Kivari said when the family and their friends first talked about creating a bursary in Donnie’s’ name everyone agreed. “This is an opportunity for kids to have a bit more money to go on into the trades and do what they want. Everybody chipped in, and we are already over our initial goal of $5,000.”
Banford noted the funds had been matched by the NTCF due to their current 10-for-10 promotion in celebration of the foundation’s 10th anniversary. “We will match any new, or contribution to an existing fund, until October of 2014,” said Banford, “This is the beauty of the foundation – the legacy aspect.”
Foundation rep and retired school teacher Bob Hearn was in attendance, and noted he was “very happy” that the bursary had come to be. He reminisced about Donnie’s life, and why Hearn felt it was important to remember him through a legacy for the trades. “Donnie was a happy child,” said Hearn, “But he had an assertive nature. During the elementary years his mischievous nature started to show. By junior high he definitely had an alternate point of view. He was brought up under meager circumstances, where family health concerns and employment challenges went hand-in-hand. Donnie always had good friends, and no one disliked him – one of those rare finds.
“After a troublesome period for Donnie he suddenly decided he would make the high school’s principal’s honour roll. He achieved straight ‘A’s, pursued music, and lucky for him there were families in Barriere and other individuals who saw this wonderful young man full of promise, they provided a home and their families. Cheryl Field was a second Mom to Donnie, and her family was his family. The Holowaychuk family brought him in as a son and brother. Myself and my wife Cheryl had Donnie work at our farm, we helped play a part in his love for the piano, keyboards and guitar. Ted and Maureen Brown also thought the world of him, and their sons were good pals of Donnie.
“ As the community embraced him and went out of their way to help make life good, Donnie responded by being an incredible worker, super co-worker, and stuck with his goal of “honour roll – no trouble – buckle down and just give ‘er’”, attitude”. Donnie graduated with honours from Barriere Secondary and he enrolled at TRU in the trades, where he graduated top of his class in pipe fitting. Then came employment and the big money he would need to build his dream.
“He told me, “I want to have a little piece of land, a family, a good job and enjoy life”. Donnie was nice guy and he was good hearted. At the time of his passing he was head hand on an oil distribution center in Alberta. His work mates were devastated, and in fact the project shut down for a few days as a result, some even left the job.
“Donnie’s eulogy is best captured on the North Thompson Funeral Services web site, written by his sister Lindsay and his parents Jo-Ann and Nick. He died in a tragic vehicle accident while returning from a job site, and one co-worker was also injured at the time.
“When I think of graduation, and how much each student looks forward to a happy life, it will always be clouded by a few precious people that left us too soon. Donnie Nicholson’s family spearheaded this movement to remember his life, to celebrate it, and to make sure his short stay here remains fresh in our minds and will continue to help others on the path that he chose into the trades. We must all be thankful for life – it is truly a gift.”