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Beloved Yellowknife hockey dad dies after battle with brain cancer

Matthew Tremblett, a Yellowknife hockey dad and known community man, has died after a battle with brain cancer for about nine years.

'We're gonna miss him a lot,' says friend

A photo of Matthew Tremblett on Feb. 6. He was known by the community as a loving hockey dad and advocate for brain cancer support in Yellowknife. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

A Yellowknife man, known as an avid hockey fan and a beloved hockey dad in the community, has died.

Matthew Tremblett was diagnosed with brain cancer about nine years ago. He and his wife Aven Tremblett were founding members of Yellowknife's Brain Tumour Walk.

This year marked the fifth year of the event. On Saturday, that group announced on social media that he had died overnight. Carrie Lauder, who sat on the committee of the walk with Matthew for the past four years, says she heard the news on Saturday morning.

"Matt was a great guy. He was so friendly, and so kind," she said. "He made everybody feel welcome and feel comfortable. He loved to joke around."

"We're gonna miss him a lot."

She said it was Matthew and Aven who were the ones to push Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada to have a walk in Yellowknife and to offer support to people in the city who have been affected by a brain tumour.

That includes Lauder's family — her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour five years ago. That's how they got to know Matthew. She said they attended brain tumour support groups in Yellowknife.

"Honestly, part of what I loved about support group was getting to see Matt, and getting to hang out with Matt and share stories and, you know, just be with him," she said.

She says the community is getting together to support Matthew's wife and family.

"They're both Yellowknifers and have strong roots in the community," she said.

People have set up a GoFundMe page to help support the family. "They have tons of people rounding around them because Matt was such a good guy," Lauder said.

Matthew's mother-in-law Kelley Weatherby, left, and wife Aven Tremblett in Yellowknife. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

'It's a different journey now'

"Matthew has been dying for nine years, and … it was still a shock," said Kelley Weatherby, Matthew's mother-in-law told CBC Monday.

After the long journey of cancer, she said, "it's a different journey now. It's a sad separation."

Weatherby said it will be a "difficult road" for Matthew's two sons, but she hoped they would follow his example of unbridled positivity.

"Even through everything, all the nine years of treatments and surgeries and ups and downs, he was just, 'okay, what's next?'" said Aven, his wife.

The family said they have been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support from the Yellowknife community. Matthew was a beloved hockey dad in the Yellowknife minor hockey scene.

"I can't even look at my phone anymore, because I have 70 unread messages," said Aven. "It's incredible just to see how many people he really touched."

"Matt's gonna be remembered as that guy who could be anybody's friends and just had a love for life and wasn't afraid to tell all of the people around him — family friends — that he loves them," Lauder said.

"I think he knew the value of that and I think we're all going to remember Matt for that and just the love that he had for his family and for his boys."

According to a family member's Facebook post, there will be a procession on Tuesday at 1:45 p.m., open to anyone. Vehicles can line up around the McKenna Funeral Home and wrap around the playground. They will then drive toward the airport. Quads and side-by-sides are welcome, the post says.

WATCH | Matt Tremblett surprised by hockey greats during Hockey Day in Yellowknife

Yellowknifer Matthew Tremblett has brain cancer. The hockey fan was surprised in a dressing room by NHL alumni Thursday. 0:57

With files from Danielle d'Entremont, Hilary Bird

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