BANFF – Ethan Enns-Goneau will always be remembered by loved ones, coaches and peers as an incredibly kind, fun-loving, and charismatic leader on and off the sports field.
The 26-year-old Banff resident was killed early in the morning last Friday (Aug. 5), which sent shock waves through the small community and produced an outpour of affection and grief.
“I have known Ethan since pre-school, in that time I have never seen him treat a single person poorly,” said Zach Belczyk, a member of Canada’s ski cross team. “Both on and off the field I have watched Ethan carry himself through life with passion, respect, and kindness. It was like he had this vortex of happiness around him, he became everyone and anyone’s best friend. His outlook on life and [the] way he touched people always inspired me. I have always tried and will continue to try to be more like Ethan.”
Growing up in the resort mountain town, Enns-Goneau was a naturally gifted athlete and was an outstanding teammate with the Banff Bears rugby team and Canmore Avalanche soccer club.
On the field, he was described as the team’s heart and soul.
Through six years of soccer during his informative years, Enns-Goneau delivered two provincial championships with the Avalanche by using leadership and a strong warrior presence on the pitch.
“He led with fire. He led with skill. He led with determination. And when one of our own was stricken with cancer, he was the kid who wore the purple t-shirt emblazoned with Andrew [Hunt’s] face and the initials ‘AH’ under his jersey,” said Mike Vlessides, Enns-Goneau’s soccer coach, in a Facebook post.
“But Ethan’s contributions to humanity were so much than what he gave on the soccer field. He was a graceful, fun-loving, and kind. He was compassionate, happy, and outgoing. He was a bright light, a shining star, a gem among people. Even as an adolescent trying to figure out who he was and what he stood for, he was comfortable in his own skin and comfortable standing up for others.”
In rugby, Enns-Goneau started with the small community’s high school team that packs a big punch on the pitch.
“He was a great teammate, and friends with all of his classmates," said Banff teacher Ian Higginbottom, who was Enns-Goneau’s rugby coach.
“He won the Jon Frey memorial award, which is selected by the graduating class and recognizes the individual who had the most positive impact on them in their high school years.”
The positive role he had on countless lives has never been more apparent than this past week in the community.
Lee Garrett, head coach of Banff’s rugby men, is one of the main drivers in developing young and talented local male and female rugby players in recent years. He said once someone is in the Bears system, they are always a part of the club.
“Half our team grew up here and are his age, so it definitely hit the boys pretty hard,” said Garrett.
"I interacted with him a lot, for sure, like everyone else … Ethan was at all our home games. I would always see his face on the sideline and got his best mate on the team.”
An RCMP investigation into Enns-Goneau’s untimely death is ongoing.
Police responded to a stabbing at the Dancing Sasquatch on August 5 around 2:30 a.m. Enns-Goneau was rushed to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, but passed away shortly after.
John-Christopher Arrizza, a 22-year-old man from Banff, has been charged with second-degree murder. He’s been remanded to custody in Calgary.
“I don’t think there are too many people who are unaffected right now,” said Garrett. “But we are all coming together.”