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Canoe raffle to fund bursary in honour of Chilliwack teen

Mike England of Chilliwack is raffling off this 17-foot cedar strip canoe to fund a bursary in his son Jeremy
Mike England of Chilliwack is raffling off this 17-foot cedar strip canoe to fund a bursary in his son Jeremy's honour.
— image credit: Sharalee Prang Photography

It's coming up on five years since 14-year-old Jeremy England died tragically while hiking with his cousin on Sumas Mountain.

On Sept. 24, 2009 the Vedder middle school student fell off a 15-metre cliff after losing his footing coming down steep terrain.

The tragedy, obviously, hit his family hard. The Englands are, however, keeping his memory alive with a bursary fund for Sardis secondary students.

And Jeremy's dad Mike has created a lake-worthy work of art in the form of a cedar-strip canoe being raffled off to fund that bursary.

Mike said Jeremy would always stick up for the little guy, whether it was someone being picked on at school or on a sports team.

"He used to walk a blind girl from class to class to look out for her," Mike said.

After Jeremy died, there was an outpouring of support from those who knew him.

"He was always quick to stick up for the underdog," said one person. "His love and compassion for others was amazing."

"I remember grade 4 he was in grade 5 and I have diabetes and he was the only kid who [would] look out for me," said another. "When I heard he didn't make it it felt like someone ripped my heart out."

Jeremy's dad said the boy was "different" that way, and that's why he wanted the bursary to go to young people who have a similar attitude. Jeremy got good marks and was quite an athlete, but that's not what its for. The family doesn't direct the bursary; teachers decide on who gets it. It's for students with good attitudes, who look out for others.

"Jeremy was an honours student and he was a fantastic athlete," Mike said. "It's not so much about that. It's their attitude, caring for other people, looking out for other people."

Mike is not a professional woodworker, but a hobbyist. He said he built the 17-foot cedar strip canoe from directions in a book. His first try "wasn't good enough for Jeremy" so he gave it away to another organziation to raffle off.

Building a canoe is something Mike and Jeremy hoped to do together.

"Him and me were going to build one that fall," Mike said. "Of course he passed away so we couldn't."

So Mike footed the bill for the materials and the lottery licence. The family has 4,000 tickets for the raffle printed up. The goal is to sell them all, at $5 each, by March 15 and raise $20,000 for Sardis secondary graduating students.

"All the money being raised, every last dime, is going to the kids."

Tickets for the canoe raffle are available at the following locations in Chilliwack: Country West Supply; Rainbow Food & Gas (Yarrow); Cascade Industrial (Airport Road); Rococo (Vedder Crossing); Winks Home Garden and Gifts (Sardis);  Sardis senior secondary (staff and students only); Vedder middle (staff and students only); Yarrow elementary (staff and students only); Rosedale middle (staff and students only) or direct from Lorne Oss at 604-792-1313 or Mike England at 604-823-4847. Tickets are also available in Abbotsford at Curtis Tire & Wheel and Abbotsford Tool Centre.

Tickets can be purchased via PayPal too. Visit Jeremy England Memorial Bursary page on Facebook for details.

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