The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) in Prince George issued a statement mourning the loss of the “much-loved and respected” former Vancouver Canucks enforcer Gino Odjick following his death on Sunday, Jan. 15.
Odjick died at the age of 52 while battling a rare terminal illness called Amyloidosis that causes abnormal protein to be produced leading to the hardening of the heart, affecting the organ’s ability to expand and contract.
Odjick hailed from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec, and played 12 seasons in National Hockey League from 1990 to 2002 for the Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Candiens, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.
“Gino and his hard work and career in the National Hockey League (NHL) helped to forge pathways and support dreams for other Indigenous players,” the BCAFN said in the statement.
“Gino was one of the best hockey players and a good-hearted human being who always made time for his fans and admirers. He especially worked hard for Indigenous youth as he mentored and advocated to create opportunities for them,” said Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
“I send my sincerest condolences to Gino’s family and friends at this time. May the Creator bless and guide him in his final journey.”
Odjick inspired youth to pursue education to overcome barriers and other challenges that First Nations face. First Nations NHL players like Ethan Bear and Carey Price have spoken of his influence on their own work and careers.
“Gino Odjick will be missed, but his legacy as an Indigenous youth who grew up on the rez and who worked hard to make his dreams come true to play in the NHL will continue to resonate with Indigenous youth,” stated Chief Lynda Price, BCAFN board director, pointing to his support of the BC Aboriginal Youth Sport and Recreation Declaration.