Before the hype, and the big cash prizes, the Harvey Walkus Memorial ball hockey tournament (now in its 14th year) was about love and support for a lost brother.
Gary Walkus remembers his brother Harvey as a true talent on the court during ball hockey tournaments. Gary looked up to his brother as a player who could not only take a heavy hit, but also score once the dust had settled. “He was a gritty player he always had a smile on his face. I remember watching him as a kid in arena tournaments and seeing him get hit by a six-foot-tall player and he just got up smiled and took the ball,” said Gary.
Despite his passion for both sports and his family, Harvey lost his fight to depression, taking his own life in 1998. From the ashes of this tragedy, Gary, who did not want the loss to be in vain, organized a ball hockey tournament in his brother’s honour.
The tournament has changed over the years having to switch locations, being held at the Robert Scott Elementary School, before it was converted into a gym, as well as shifting
from February to April for the convenience of visiting teams. The tournament has seen growing support from area sponsors, including Cape Scott Wind Farms, James Wallace fishing company, Overwaitea and The Hobby Nook. However, the support that has meant the most for Gary, and his siblings, was from his parents Chief Paddy Walkus, and Nellie Walkus.
“It’s been a struggle, but with continued guidance to continue to follow, it gives us inspiration. It’s hard for them to lose their second son,” said Gary.
This year’s tournament will not only showcase floor hockey, but local up-and-coming talent, Gary’s nephew Tristan Swain-Walkus, who will be performing a song he wrote for Harvey. Twenty teams are scheduled to take part. The first place team will receive $2,800, the second $1,400, and the third $800. The entry fee for women’s teams will be $200, with first place receiving $1,100, second place $600, and third $300. Six women’s teams will also take part.
The event will be held at the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw community hall. For further information contact Gary Walkus at 250-230-3852.