I am often asked why I have become such an advocate and ambassador for people dealing with Multiple Sclerosis and the MS Society. There are a number of reasons and a number of people who initiated my drive and continue to fuel my drive to help end MS but in order to give credit where it is due I must acknowledge the first person that made me aware of the terrible condition known as Multiple Sclerosis.
Deputy Chief Clem St Croix, Yellowknife Fire Division.
I first met Clem (a friend of my brothers) at the Yellowknife Fire Hall in early 2000, at the time I was initiating a fire prevention program and he was a wealth of knowledge and readily provided me with ideas and suggestions.
The next time I visited Clem’s mobility had decreased substantially, he was still on the job but in a limited capacity. I visited with him in his office and what really struck me about him was that although he was suffering daily with MS and dealing with severe mobility issues, he remained positive and cheerful (at least on the outside).
It was after this visit that I began participating in the Hinton MS Bike Tour and fundraising for the MS Society, in honor of Clem and the many more people I met with MS.
The last time I saw Clem was in 2006 a couple of years before he passed away, this time he was confined to a wheel chair and despite that he was still the same old happy, friendly, positive guy. I was going through a rough time back home and Clem basically debriefed me and helped me put some things back into perspective. Pretty amazing for someone in his condition!
On the flight home I thought about how someone living and dealing with such a horrible disease could remain so optimistic and helpful to others, to say he helped me would be an understatement, he motivated me to make some positive changes in my lifestyle and motivated me to help with the drive to end Multiple Sclerosis once and for all.
Clem’s legacy lives on through his two lovely daughters and his contribution to the Yellowknife Fire Division; gone but not forgotten, Clem St Croix RIP.
Clem’s daughter Aleta send me his obituary:
Clem Joseph St. Croix
March 24, 1965 – August 27, 2008
Clem St. Croix was a man of many colors. Born and raised in St. Vincent’s, St. Mary’s Bay, Newfoundland, Clem held a life-long love for fishing and the great outdoors. He was a devoted father, brother and friend by day, poet and mastermind by night. His passion for life was contagious to all those around him – his laughter often reaching new sound frequencies.
While Multiple Sclerosis forced Clem to retire from Deputy Fire Chief at the Yellow Knife FD in 2005, he will forever be the face of their famous ‘Clumsy the Clown’ and remembered through his three fire safety children’s books. In 2008, Clem lost his battle, leaving behind his two daughters Aleta and Kadee, and many other family members to share his legacy. He remains forever loved and cherished.
I asked my brother Bernie a good friend of Clem’s and a past member of the Yellowknife Fire Division for his take on Clem:
Clem was a Newfie. Friendly to a fault, always cheerful. Free spirited and open. If you had crap on your nose he’d tell you. Clem was not afraid to try new things, he went everywhere his boat would take him, and some places it wouldn’t. Even when he was stricken initially with MS and had very limited mobility he’d get into the boat with help and be off fishing and exploring.
Clem raised his kids to be just like him. I remember him butchering a moose in his dining room – his wife was not too impressed – the girls were up to their necks in gore and loving it. He brought home Easter Chicks one year, raised them in the yard until the girls and he decided it was time to have some chicken for supper. That was the end of the chickens and no fuss!
Clem was always there for others. He didn’t make a big deal of it he just pitched in and helped when help was needed. If you needed help because of something stupid you did, he didn’t hesitate – he let you know it was stupid, but helped out none the less.
As a fire fighter he was a great teacher – just the right mix of compassion and sarcasm to get the job done.