January 18, 2021

Pemberton area avalanche victim loved the outdoors, his mother says he received safety training

Susan Poker said her son has lived his life to the fullest. He lived fast. He lived on the edge, but he lived carefully.

Nicholas Poker, son of Bowker, was one of two riders who died on Tuesday after an avalanche. He is 30 years old.

“Nicholas lived his dreams,” said Susan Poker, from her home in Tilsunburg, Ont. “I’m glad he was happy, I’m not glad he’s gone, but I’m glad he was able to do so much in his 30 years.

“Do I want him to be safe now? Yes, I do. I wish he had come home the day before. But it’s not. We have to accept it.”

When Nicholas was brave, Susan said he was not irresponsible. He had avalanche training and proper equipment.

Nicholas Poker catches a little wind on his snow bike while riding in Whistler in 2018 BC. (Susan Poker)

“He had the feeling of living on the edge, but still safe about it,” Susan said.

“I cared about him, but you know what? I prayed for him. I knew God was watching over him. God has a purpose in all of this.”

The second victim worked in the regional district

Bowker and Graham Howe were missing Monday afternoon after an avalanche in the Goat Creek background area near Pemberton, about 150 kilometers north of Vancouver. Their bodies were found Tuesday.

Howe was identified by his employer, the Scamish-Lilot Regional District, where he was a senior project coordinator.

“Graham’s work has had a significant community and organizational impact by successfully leading a diverse range of projects, and he leaves a remarkable distinguished legacy,” District Board Chairman Jen Ford said in a statement.

“Graham will miss the whole team deep in the SLRD. It’s an immeasurable loss.”

Nicholas Poker’s parents are devastated by the death of their son, but have been grateful for 30 years with him.

Farm farming

Nicholas grew up on a family farm in Tilsonburg, 50 kilometers east of London.

His parents, who grew up around soybeans, corn and winter wheat, said he became a hard-working young man who loved the outdoors and animals.

Nicholas would store the kittens in the barn at home, Susan recalled, and was a dedicated helper when raising family service dogs.

Nicholas Poker, with a friend in a photo taken the weekend before he died. (Susan Poker)

The family’s first service dog, Susan, was a chocolate lab, which Nicholas wanted to make sure other service dogs could swim by listening to the sink.

“In April he put on his vest – it’s a little cold in the pool – and went into the pool and swam [the dog] About an hour in an old pool, ”Susan said.

“If he has anything on his mind, he does it. He froze in the pool again to make sure the dog knew what to do if he fell into the water.”

He developed a love of motor sports when he was 12 or 13 on the farm. First he rode on the family quads, then embraced dirt bikes, motorcycles, snowmobiles and snow bikes.

On the farm, a teenage Nicholas built his own motocross path on an unused field.

Nicholas Poker with his dog, Rocky, his nephew Gordon and brother-in-law Ashley. (Susan Poker)

“It was so awesome,” said Steve Poker, Nicholas ’father. “He knew how to move forward. He definitely had the equipment.

“He was lifting dirt here and making mounds, corners and jumps and all sorts of stuff. It was fun to watch.”

Heading west

Nicholas moved to northern Alberta in his mid-twenties, working as a heavy equipment operator building oil and gas pipelines. He moved to Abbotsford a year ago, where he worked for a property developer.

His mother took pride in her work, especially when it came to building precision stone walls.

For Nicholas, the exterior was everything. Susan said she loved going on her snow bike – “the bike was just like it was with her” – but she also loved hiking and kayaking.

Nicholas Poker has three sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, two older brothers, his parents and four grandparents.

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