Tragic loss of two students

The air on campus was heavier than usual in October, as the University of Calgary lost two of its own.

University of Calgary students Brian Collins, fifth-year Social Science, and Joah Atkinson, fourth-year Communication and Culture, were killed in a vehicle-pedestrian accident the evening of Tue., Sept. 30. The pair were returning from a U of C Rugby Club executive meeting when they were struck by a minivan while crossing 32 Ave. NW at 33 St.

"The investigation is still ongoing," explained Calgary Police Services Duty Inspector Keith Pollock. "As of right now, no charges have been laid."

Despite the uncertainty about the specifics of the accident itself, steps are being taken on campus to honour the fallen pair. Blake Chalmers, a friend of Collins, is spearheading the Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Fund, designed to fund an annual scholarship. As well, the Faculty of Communication and Culture is trying to establish a scholarship in Atkinson’s honour.

"We’re investigating the possibility of establishing a memorial bursary in Joah’s name for a Canadian Studies student," Communications and Culture Dean Dr. Kathleen Scherf explained. "She’s a student who was much beloved."

In the days since the tragic accident, many friends, teammates and classmates sent stories, memories and well-wishes to the Gauntlet, celebrating the lives of two truly amazing people.

"Brian’s laugh and smile were contagious–when he laughed, we all laughed," wrote friend Stephanie Sanden. "It is important to know how genuine this guy was. He never complained, and even if he had a 30-page paper due the next day he always found time to sit and talk."

"Always with smiles, always with laughter, and always with some great plan for the weekend you couldn’t help but get excited about," wrote Nick Dodd, another of the pair’s close friends. "Brian and Joah knew life is not to be taken too seriously, and in living this lesson they brought joy, happiness and laughter to all around them."

Both will be dearly missed by their friends, family and those fortunate enough to know them. More stories, reactions and reflections can be found on page 12 or online at

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