New Trail Spring 2007

Page 8

bear country

Gone, But Not Forgotten


fter all the voices that have been heard, it’s the silent tribute that perhaps says the most. On January 24, 2007, the residents of St. Joseph’s College hung their hockey jerseys out the College’s north-facing windows in memory of Dean Mortensen, a student who played on the St. Joseph’s Rangers intramural hockey team and who disappeared 15 years ago. In January 1992 Mortensen, who was in his first year of Science studies at the U of A, went with some buddies to a popular pub in Lister Hall. Shortly after midnight, the group started heading back to St. Joseph’s College. The details are unclear, but for some reason Dean and his friends parted ways near the Butterdome. Dean has not been seen or heard from since. “It’s tricky to vanish,” says Father Timothy Scott, president of St. Joseph’s College. “Especially in the dead of winter, it’s pretty hard to make yourself disappear, if that’s what this was. So you suspect foul play.” The next morning, Mortensen’s good friend Stephen Beland, ’99 BSc (Env&Cons) — they’d grown up together in Grande Cache, Alberta, and were

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defense partners on several hockey teams — knocked on Dean’s door on his way to an early class they shared. “I didn’t hear him but thought maybe he had slept in,” Beland says. “Then he missed his second and third class too, so when I got back to the College around 1 p.m. I forced his door open because I was worried.” When Beland noticed that Dean’s bed had not been slept in, he “flipped out,” he says. “It was just not like him to not be home.” In fact, Beland says, Dean was a quiet guy who really didn’t go anywhere else in Edmonton off campus. When Beland told the other residents that he was worried, “they all listened. When I said it was strange that Dean wasn’t back, they all started searching. They all cared. Every single one of them helped look. It’s a tight family.” They kept looking for Dean over the next several days. To draw attention to their search, the residents of St. Joe’s hung their Rangers hockey jerseys out their windows. Eventually, though the searches and police investigation didn’t lead to Dean, hanging the jerseys became a tradition of remembrance. Current residents might have

ne of the hottest stars of Canadian television dropped by campus January 8 to share a bit of U of A energy with his television audience. Rick Mercer, host of CBC’s The Mercer Report, has visited several universities across Canada, and this time was our turn. Mercer spent a couple of hours at a Pandas volleyball practice learning how to serve, spike and block shots. Though he joked that he wasn’t tall enough to play with the Bears bas-


Students Dennis O’Dwyer (left) and Adam Jordens hang hockey jerseys out the windows of St. Joseph’s College in tribute to former resident Dean Mortensen (left).

been only toddlers when Dean was a student at the U of A, but all St. Joe’s residents embrace the yearly opportunity to remember a Ranger. “The sense is that we are remembering Dean, and we use this event to celebrate the strength of our community,” says Robert Routledge, ’03 BEd, director of residence at St. Joseph’s College. “We recognize how challenging it would be to suddenly and unexpectedly lose a member of that community, and we show respect for the group of Rangers that had to go through this.” Residents attended the noon mass at the College, wearing blue lapel ribbons as another sign of remembrance. Each year the Dean Mortensen Scholarship is awarded to a student who is active in intramurals, has leadership skills, and contributes to a safer campus. —Shelagh Kubish, ’85 BA

ketball team, the women volleyball players towered over him — in particular Tiffany Dodds who stands well over two metres tall. Explaining his choice to join the Pandas at practice, Mercer joked that he was impressed with all the U of A had to explore, but “the women’s volleyball team had me written all over it, because I’m a naturally gifted athlete, don’t you know.” After trading spikes and jokes with the volleyball players, Mercer visited the