“Dustin was the backbone to EMS and first responders. He worked hard and always had a smile on his face. He was a mentor, a supporter and a friend to many; his colleagues were his family,” says friend Danielle Joly.
It was a shock to many when Dustin died by suicide in May 2018 at the age of 36.
From that shock and grief, friends and family banded together to help raise awareness of the effects of PTSD in the first responders and the increasing rate of suicide among this population.
After a few fundraisers they turned to the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta for assistance and have created the Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund to ensure his legacy lives on.
Born and raised in the Grande Prairie area, Dustin took his EMT training in Medicine Hat before returning to Grande Prairie to work.
“Dustin was a big part of this community and keeping it safe and in saving lives,” says Dustin’s mom Belinda Sieker. “He supported this community daily through his job, and supporting our region is important to us, as well as raising awareness about mental health (PTSD and suicide awareness) with first responders, and even more specifically to paramedics, is necessary.”
For Joly and the family, having the support of the Community Foundation to help focus their fundraising efforts and create the Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund has been inspiring.
“After Dustin’s passing I found strength and peace in the idea of building this legacy. Meeting his friends and family from all over the world and seeing the community support such a great man was inspiration to me. I knew that I wanted to increase the awareness of suicide prevention and PTSD. Having raised money from the sale of suicide awareness bracelets and keychains, I wasn’t sure how to best utilize these funds. It was important to me to give back to the community, raise awareness and preserve Dustin’s legacy. Meeting with Tracey Vavrek and Tracy Zuk at the Community Foundation helped me realize exactly how everything I had envisioned in my head could be facilitated by such an organization,” says Joly.
The Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund will focus on offering student awards for advanced care paramedics and will also contribute to mental health programs in our community.
“Dustin was very dedicated to helping people and was passionate about his career as a paramedic and first responder,” says Belinda. “Even though Dustin has passed, the fact that his name and fund will continue to give back and support the community is massive to us. We have all been learning from Dustin’s passing and we want to continue to learn from this experience and help others who could be struggling.”
You can make a difference in our community – not only for today but forever. When you make a donation to the Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund, we invest that gift into a permanent endowment fund and the original gift is never spent. Earnings from your gift is distributed to a student award and through grants to mental health programs in our community. Donations can be made online here – https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/37407 or by calling the Community Foundation at (780) 538-2820.