Mr. Speaker I would like to acknowledge Mr. Pat Bobinski, who passed away this summer at the age of 77. He was a resident of Hay River for over 50 years, but I’d wager that there is at least one person in every single community in the Territory whose life he personally impacted in a positive way.
Those who only know of him, may know him as “Mr. Biathlon”. That’s because by most accounts, biathlon wouldn’t exist in the Northwest Territories without Pat – there wouldn’t be biathletes from Fort Smith to Paulatuk and everywhere in between, let alone representing the NWT at the Olympics. For his impact on the sport, Biathlon Canada presented him with the June Hooper Award in 2010, which is given annually to one person in Canada who has significantly contributed to the growth and development of the sport with years of service, dedication, and unstinting devotion.
However, Mr. Speaker, his impressive contributions to biathlon only touch on his true legacy. They’re a consequence of what truly defined him, and what those who knew him will remember him by – his utter selflessness, and his devotion to helping others.
Of course, this could be seen through his volunteer work with sport – the endless hours of one on one coaching in a variety of sports, his work with the ski club, the shooting club, the track and field championships, NWT Biathlon, and so on, and of course the countless miles he travelled doing this work.
However, his volunteerism extended well beyond sports. He served on the boards of many volunteer associations, was a Justice of the Peace for 4 decades, a volunteer firefighter, and generally, would be wherever he was needed.
He never sought the limelight but, but his contributions did not go unnoticed. A few of the many, many rewards he received include the NWT Outstanding Volunteer Award, the NWT Outstanding Volunteer Elder Award, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and numerous national and regional awards for sports. He also received the Commissioner’s and the Governor General’s Award for Bravery which he received for challenging Hay River’s severely flooded West channel to evacuate stranded residents in 1985. Alone, in total darkness, he paddled his canoe amid fast moving ice floes and other debris in search of victims. Plucking people from their perches, he assisted them into the extra boat he had tied to the rear of his canoe. Time after time he braved the swirling water, until he had satisfied himself that all residents of the West Channel had been accounted for and evacuated. I told someone that story today – they responded “Yeah, that sounds like Pat”.
He was one of a kind, and will truly be missed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.