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Carving memories

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Eddie Lack knows his way around a crease.

Eddie Lack does not know his way around a pumpkin.

On Tuesday afternoon at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver, Lack, Zack Kassian and David Booth joined with the families of Canuck Place to celebrate Halloween and carve some pumpkins and smiles.

Lack, the most enthusiastic Canucks player of the three (who were all visiting Canuck Place for the first time), grabbed a knife and chose a design before he had to ask for help.

“We didn’t carve pumpkins growing up, I’ve never done this before,” admitted the 25-year-old Swede.

Luckily Lack was paired with a trio of pumpkin carving experts, namely Shayan (10-year-old boy), Darya (8-year-old girl) and Kiyan (6-year-old boy) all of whom have extensive knowledge in all things Halloween.

“It’s going to be a long afternoon, isn’t it Eddie,” smiled Shayan, seated to Lack’s left, leader of the Teach Eddie how to Carve a Pumpkin task force. “Stick with me and you’ll be okay.”

Many of the children who spend time at Canuck Place live with physical or mental disabilities, but it’s an emotional hurdle Shayan, Darya and Kiyan, and their parents Aryan and Belinda, are working to overcome.

Tragedy struck the Maple Ridge family this past summer when their two-and-a-half-year-old son/brother Jiyan passed away after falling out of a window. The toddler pushed through a screen window and fell from the second floor of their home; despite being airlifted to hospital, he was unable to recover from the injuries.

Canuck Place reached out to the family to offer support in its darkest hour. The children have had the opportunity to bond and grieve with others who have lost siblings.

“It’s difficult putting into words what the support has meant,” said Belinda, watching her kids laugh with Lack. “We’ve been through a lot and it’s great that we can be here for this event. It’s hard…and feels weird to be perpetually sad and still laughing.

“Events like this help with the healing; it’s great to see them smile (pauses to laugh), although it looks like Eddie has the biggest smile of anyone.”

Guilty as charged.

Once Lack got an earful from Shayan about what’s what when it comes to practicing the age-old tradition of pumpkin carving, pulp and seeds began to fly. Lack chose a witch design and after breezing through that, he turned his nearly completed Jack-o'-lantern around and put a big C into the back – “C for Canucks, you know” – ya, I get it.

“That was pretty fun actually,” the Canucks backup netminder smiled, clutching his orange creation. “I had no idea what I was doing, I actually didn’t know, but the kids were very nice to me and we had some laughs. And now I can say I’ve carved a pumpkin!”

Kassian, fresh off the completion of a Frankenstein pumpkin with his buddy Keian, proudly snapped photos of his finished product and although this wasn’t his first rodeo, it was his first visit to Canuck Place. Both he and Lack showed up early and got a full tour of the facility, which was built in 1995 and has offered specialized care for BC children living with life-threatening conditions ever since.

“What can I say, it’s incredible,” said Kassian. “Some of these kids here didn’t get a fair chance at living a full life, so it’s great to visit a place like this where they’re looked after.

“Being able to spread a few smiles today was an honour.”

David Booth, the knifesman of the group, worked with Destiny and her mom on a bat pumpkin and, after trading the recommended carving knife for what can only be described as a machete, he got down to business.

Things got for sticky for Booth when things actually got sticky for Booth. He’s no hand model, but grabbing pumpkin guts with his hands proved to be an issue.

“Come on Boother, get in there and get dirty you pansy!” yelled Lack from across the room.

Hearing that, Shayan, Daria and Kiyan all beamed at Lack, the pumpkin-carving rookie they turned into a pro.

Eddie Lack now knows his way around a pumpkin.

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