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Banff Bears rugby men’s new uniform honours beloved resident

“I really loved the idea of it, to pay homage showing his initials because he was big into rugby."

BANFF – The memory of a Banff man who was tragically murdered last summer will be remembered on the pitch with the local men’s rugby team.

The spirit of Ethan Enns-Goneau remains in the hearts of the Banff Bears, a favourite team of the well-loved late 26-year-old, whose initials have been stitched on the shorts of the club’s new uniforms this season.

The memorial logo, which is a pink square with a black heart and the initials EEG, has been prominent around town since last year and having it featured on the Bears’ new kits was a “no brainer” to “tip of our hats to a classy person like Ethan.”

“It’s very unfortunate what happened,” said Bears’ Mark Hooper. “The fact that Ethan played junior rugby, he was a Banff-raised kid and he was in the service industry, he was well known and well-liked and just an absolute credit to himself and his family.”

The on-pitch honour brought a tear to Banff’s Kyle Mills, a close friend of Enns-Goneau and No. 8 on the Bears, after hearing about the memorial for his late friend he had known throughout school and adulthood.

“I really loved the idea of it, to pay homage showing his initials because he was big into rugby,” said Mills. “He wasn’t playing anymore, but he was at most of our home games.

“As much as we can remember him, as often as we can, in my opinion, I think that will be the best thing.”

Enns-Goneau was stabbed to death Aug. 5, 2022 at Banff nightclub. He was rushed to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, but passed away shortly after. 

The horrific incident sent shockwaves through the small mountain community and produced an outpour of affection and grief.

John-Christopher Arrizza, a then 22-year-old man, was charged with second-degree murder. He has a preliminary hearing set in Canmore for July 17.

Around town, Enns-Goneau was known as a “big part of the community” who was an incredibly kind, fun-loving, and charismatic leader. After rugby matches at his service job at Mel’s, he was known to take care of the boys in black and yellow.

Enns-Goneau’s passing hit the rugby team hard last season, which went on the win the 2022 Calgary Rugby Union Championship in September. After receiving the championship cup, the Bears began chanting "EEG".

“Last year, winning everything that was definitely a big moment,” said Mills. “And then to have [the logo on the kits] this year, just kind of brought the whole thing together, I feel like.”

On Saturday (May 27), the Bears debuted the memorial logo shorts in their season opener against the Holy Goats of Calgary. The Bears ran over the Holy Goats 82-7.

“He would have loved it, I know that,” said Mills. “He always loved it when we put a thumping on the other team. Everybody loves it when we run up the scoreboard, especially ‘cause rugby just seems to be a pretty well-rooted thing in Banff here. But yeah, I know he would love to see it and he was definitely in my thoughts and other peoples’ [thoughts] playing, for sure.”

The Bears will have a minute of silence for Enns-Goneau before their home opener against the Canucks on June 17 at 1 p.m. at Banff Recreation Grounds.

Hooper said it’s a classy gesture for a classy person like Enns-Goneau.

“No one’s ever gonna forget Ethan,” said Hooper.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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