Celebration of life for Samuel Roland, ‘a true gift from God’

An image of Samuel Roland supplied by his family
An image of Samuel Roland supplied by his family.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday for Samuel Roland, who was 25 years old when he passed away suddenly on February 20.

Samuel’s ceremony will take place at the Yellowknife Alliance Church, on Highway 3, at 1pm, with burial to follow at the Lakeview Cemetery. Transportation to and from the church is provided from the Church of Christ on Range Lake Road, departing between 12pm and 12:45pm.

Samuel leaves behind his father Floyd Roland, mother Shawna Lough, stepfather Scott Lough, sister Courtney, and brothers Austin, Justin, Quincey, and Mitchell, among many other family members.

He was born in Inuvik on November 17, 1994, eventually moving with the family to Yellowknife. There he began his own business, Grizzly Security Services, with his brother, Mitchell.

“He will forever be remembered as our amazing and much-loved Samuel with the big, beautiful heart,” family members wrote in an obituary posted online.

Donations can be made to the Side Door Ministries in lieu of flowers.

Below, Samuel’s family remember him in their own words.

Hear family members pay their tributes to Samuel Roland in the Thursday, February 27 Lunchtime News podcast.

Floyd Roland, father: I’ll go right back to some of his earliest days. He was a little fellow but didn’t stay little for long. Right from kindergarten, some of the earliest school pictures, he started towering over his classmates. When his brothers would go play street hockey or go play a sport down the road with their buddies, even though he was quite a bit younger, he wanted to tag along so bad.

He loved to go out in a boat or on a snow machine, things like that. He was just taking it in. You can see from the pictures he has – being in a boat, just the look on his face, the peace he had with that.

And as he got older, he had ambitions. He wanted to do so many things. He started his little security company. The kind of work he did in security, it had its challenges, let’s just say. There were times when he would reach out and say he was ready to walk away from it all, but he never did.

He struggled a number of times with depression and, in fact, when he decided to run in the territorial election, he made youth and mental health one of his key areas that he would have liked to focus on. I remember him telling me, ‘Dad, I plan to do this,’ and I said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? ‘ Because it’s a different kind of work and it’s not all roses and songs and sweet things going by – it can be pretty tedious and draining at times. But he ran and recovered from not winning and went right back to work.

He made so many people laugh and he has also helped out a lot of people when, at times, he couldn’t afford to – but he did it anyway. A lot of people look at him as a big teddy bear when they talk about their friendship with him.

He had so much potential. He was a good ideas guy. He kept on trying, I think, even close to when, on his last night, he went to bed. He still had ideas. Just a couple months ago he said, ‘Dad, maybe you should come up here and we’ll start a new garage.’ He’s a heavy equipment mechanic, I’m an automotive mechanic from back in the day. He also jumped in to work at Jiffy Lube and started managing that for a little bit. He wanted to do so much.

I’m looking at doing something back home in Inuvik, because there are a lot of people who would like to come down but can’t make the trip. We’re looking at doing that as one way for his friends and family to say their thing.

Scott Lough, stepfather: I want to remember Samuel as a man that unconditionally loved the people around him. The work that he did brought him in contact with every group of people in this city, and that included those in the greatest need. And I believe he did that work because he could help them and he wanted to help them.

There was never a winter that Samuel didn’t help somebody who was cold by giving them his parka or just making sure he got them to a place where they could warm up.

And he was accepting of me. When I became part of this family, Samuel was the first one to step up and say, ‘You’re OK.’ I want to remember him as someone who was very generous and very accepting.

Shawna Lough, mother: We just miss him so much. He was so loving and kind and generous to so many people.

He would come visit and liven up the room with his stories, or his funny dance, or his new languages he would put together, and just… he always tried to get everybody else happy and feeling in a good mood, despite how he might have felt at the time.

He was always thinking about everybody else. His friends, his family, people he didn’t even know – he was friendly and outgoing and wasn’t afraid to go meet new people, welcome them in, and show kindness and generosity to anybody. Samuel was just a true gift from God.

A couple years ago, for my birthday – when they were planning this big surprise party – he tricked me into going on this big trip down to the very end of the Ingraham Trail. He had me stop at all the signs to take photos, he said he was going to put together this calendar.

But the best part was that we had two hours to be totally just us. That was so special, just us talking about his hopes and his dreams and his fears, and what he hoped for his future, his loves, and his plans.

He had this strong faith in God and I know he believed that, one day, when he died, he’d be going to heaven. And that’s what we cling to: we will one day see him again. That feels pretty good, despite all this pain right now that he’s gone, to have that hope.