Triumph and tragedy over the last five years have taken Harold DeCoste and Natasha Collins on quite the journey since they first met in Grande Prairie in 2013.
Natasha was born and raised in the Grande Prairie region but left in 2002 to pursue her education and travel. She returned in 2012, planning to only stay for a year or so to get a jumpstart in paying back her student loans. Harold came to Grande Prairie in 2012 from Nova Scotia, planning only to stay for a short period of time. Plans changed very quickly however, as they often do, when Harold met Natasha in 2013.
It was an instant connection and together with their bunny, Oliver, they built a house and made Grande Prairie their home. The little family grew quickly, but not in the most traditional way.
On Natasha’s 30th birthday, Harold surprised her with a tiny red dachshund. Natasha immediately fell in love with his floppy ears and endless need to snuggle…she named him Finnegan and they have been inseparable since.
The following year, Natasha wanted to do something extra special for Harold for Fathers’ Day. After many long talks, they had decided that having kids was simply not in the cards for them, however this didn’t mean that they weren’t a real family. On Father’s Day, Natasha presented Harold with a small gift bag, which he opened to find a miniature blonde dachshund. Harold knew that this little girl was his Casey, and she has been daddy’s little girl since day one.
The couple has experienced hardships over the years, which have tested their relationship fully, and ultimately brought them closer together. In December 2015, Natasha’s father, Dominick, was diagnosed with cancer. Though it was a tough fight, with the amazing support of family and friends, he has now been cancer free since 2017.
Tragedy struck the couple again only a few months after Natasha’s father’s diagnosis. In the spring of 2016, Harold’s father (Harold Sr.) a hard-working, devoted husband, family man, and best friend, passed away suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 60. Though fairly new to his workplace, the outpouring of support from Harold’s bosses, colleagues, and the community in general was amazing. Always a supporter of the underdog, Harold Sr. had a soft spot for animals, one of the many positive traits which were passed on to his son, and in lieu of flowers, many individuals chose to make donations to local animal shelters back in Nova Scotia.
A surprising outpouring of donations and condolences came from all over, many from individuals who had experienced support from Harold Sr. in the past by one form or another, be it by means of a helping hand or perhaps his notorious influential words of life experience and advice.
Most surprising were those donations and condolences sent all the way from the community in Grande Prairie, the majority of which were from individuals who had never met Harold Sr. in person but have seen how his son strives to be like him in every way and pass on those same influential words and helping hands, always putting others needs before his own.
After receiving a tremendous amount of support from Natasha and her family during this time of great hardship, and just over five years together, by use of Harold’s typical low key and traditional methods (not really), Harold asked Natasha to marry him, and of course, she said yes!
In February 2019 they will be wed and could not be more excited. They realize how fortunate they are to have each other and their special, although perhaps unusual, family and group of close friends.
They hope to give back to the community that has supported them and continue the legacy left by Harold’s father, and the values instilled by both their parents, of supporting all the animals and people of their community that are in need and bring so much joy to all of us, and the organizations that support them. In 2017 Natasha became a board member of the Community Foundation and continues to serve her community through her work and volunteer abilities.