Esquimalt, BC—Join families and supporters from Esquimalt and the region in watching Greater Victoria fire fighters face off in the first annual Ken Gill and Forrest Owens Memorial Hockey Game. The game will be held at noon on March 25.
The event is meant to increase awareness of mental health and cancer incidences affecting members of the fire service and our communities at large. Occupational cancer is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the fire service. Fire fighter and emergency medical responders experiencing multiple traumatic events have a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress which burdens their mental health.
Attending the event will be medical oncologist Dr. Kenneth Kunz. Dr. Kunz will speak to the impacts of cancer and firefighting with both firefighters and their families.
“Fire fighters by way of their career, are exposed to events that challenge their physical, emotional and spiritual health,” said Dr. Kunz. “Events such as this Esquimalt hockey tournament enable civilians and firefighters to come together in a way that enhances the social protective fabric that keep us connected on the frontline.”
The event is also the kickoff for the Forrest Owens and Ken Gill Memorial Scholarship. Two standout students from Esquimalt High School will be recognized for acting a positive role model in their community. The scholarship will be awarded later this spring.
“The effects of cancer and the impacts on mental health in the fire service are significant—bringing awareness to this issues is something we feel strongly about. We wanted to honour the memories Forrest and Ken by supporting youth in our community,” said Fire Chief Steve Serbic. “This is the first year for the scholarship program and we are proud to see support from departments across Greater Victoria”.
This friendly game will be held at Archie Browning Sports Centre and is open to the public. The event starts at 12 noon.
Refreshments and food will be available.
Ken Gill had a distinguished 33-year firefighting career with the Langford, DND, Sidney and Oak Bay Fire Departments. He retired in 2014 from the Oak Bay FD as a Captain Inspector. Ken then served as FD Chaplain to both Oak Bay and Esquimalt Fire Departments and was a strong advocate for mental health. He passed away in 2018.
Forrest Owens had 35 years of service to the Central Saanich community working as a volunteer firefighter, Captain, and career Assistant Fire Chief. He was well known and respected in the community not only as a firefighter, but also as an avid fisherman, dedicated coach in hockey and lacrosse, and member on several boards and committees. He passed away in 2022.
About Dr. Kenneth Kunz
Kenneth R. Kunz, Md, PhD completed training in general internal medicine at the Arizona Health Sciences Center in 1993, followed by subspecialty training in medical oncology at the Arizona Cancer Center in 1995. He is a member of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network Health & Wellness Advisory Council.