Northern Sunrise County deputy fire chief Julien Bergeron, left, completed his 2023 Northern Trek for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation on Aug. 23 in Peace River. Behind him, left-right, are Peace Regional RCMP Const. Julie-Ann Strilaiff, her dog Carol (not an RCMP canine), Big Lakes County deputy fire chief Luci Martinson, Bergeron’s father Laval Bergeron, Peace Regional RCMP S/Sgt David Browne, Peace River Fire Department Capt. Mike Frayne (holding flag) and Northern Sunrise County district chief Simon Lavoie.

For the sixth consecutive year, a firefighter from the Peace River area raised thousands of dollars for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation in an annual run in the north.

Northern Sunrise County deputy fire chief Julien Bergeron completed his 175-km 2023 Northern Trek from Aug. 19-23 from Spirit River to Falher and finishing in Peace River.

“We raised about $21,000,” Bergeron says.

“We reached a benchmark of raising over $100,000 since 2018.

Over the past six years, the Northern Trek has raised $114,000.”

Bergeron was given a royal welcome as he finished the journey in Peace River.

“While passing the Northern Sunrise County office, all staff were outside to cheer us on,” Bergeron says.

“Once we arrived at the Peace River fire hall, a crowd was gathered to welcome us.

“We had to cross a caution tape ribbon to mark the finales of the Trek.”

Along the way, he was joined by other firefighters.

Smoky River regional fire chief Marcel Maure ran about 35 km Aug. 21 ending in Falher.

Big Lakes County deputy fire chief Luci Martinson participated again as she ran 105 km. She started on Aug. 21 and finished in Peace River.

Along the way, Bergeron was supported by many people who encouraged him.

“Comaraderie with other fellow firefighters and first responders on the road is big,” Bergeron says.

He appreciated respect by motorists driving safely.

On a warm day, he appreciated a helicopter cooling off the runners by dumping a bucket of water of them.

Bergeron plans to continue the Northern Trek in 2024.

“No route has been chosen yet, but it will be an area not yet covered in previous years for a distance ranging from 175-200 km,” he says.

He says support keeps on growing.

“Support for the project never stops growing because the fire service is a tight-knit community,” Bergeron says.

“We all know that if we, or other members of our service, regardless of location, pass away due to a line-of-duty death, that our families are supported by whatever means the foundation is capable of providing.”

One key role of the CFFF is to help support the families, he says.

“Unfortunately, despite our efforts to keep everyone safe and to ensure our firefighters return home after serving their communities during a call, not all firefighters survive and end up making the ultimate sacrifice – leaving their families and loved ones behind,” Bergeron says.

He says Northern Trek would not be possible without support through sponsorships, donations, logistical supports and endless encouragement.

Bergeron founded the Northern Trek for the CFFF to promote healthy living through physical activity and to raise funds for the CFFF, which honours and remembers firefighters who died from injuries and health while on duty and supports their families.

by Richard Froese

This item copyrighted by / South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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