Yellowknife residents are planning a procession of pickup trucks through the city on Sunday afternoon in memory of the late Les Rocher.
Les, one of the city’s foremost property developers, passed away last week at the age of 63. However, pandemic restrictions make it impossible to hold a full memorial service for the time being.
Instead, longtime friend Kerry Yamkowy is planning a parade of vehicles beginning at the Multiplex at 1pm on Sunday, then heading through Yellowknife to Rocher’s beloved Old Town.
Yamkowy can’t be there herself – she says she’s stuck in Nanaimo, unable to get to Yellowknife – but friends in Yellowknife have taken on the campaign, which already has dozens of participants signed up.
“We were told there wouldn’t be a memorial service until later, after everything had been opened up. It bothered me that there was no send-off for Les,” Yamkowy said, referring to a ban on funerals and similar services while Covid-19 remains a threat.
“I just visualized this drive-by but I’m in Nanaimo. How the heck am I going to do it? Luckily, some friends in Yellowknife thought it was a great idea.”
Les and pickup trucks were inseparable over his many decades in Yellowknife property development.
“That’s where he did his parenting or offered what he could about the world he knew,” said his daughter, Jacqueline Khavandi, who spent her twenties working alongside her father in the truck’s passenger seat.
Construction company owner Niels Konge said: “I’m personally going to miss him coming to the end of my cul-de-sac and telling me to get in, we’re going for a drive.”
“Les lived in those trucks,” said Yamkowy on Wednesday.
“It would be nice to get as many pickup trucks as we could,” she added, though people are welcome to participate in Sunday’s event in any vehicle they like.
Yamkowy said the enthusiastic response to her suggestion for a procession has made her “very pleased.”
“My biggest concern was for Les’s mum, who is one of the most wonderful women I’ve ever known. I know she is going through a really rough time,” she said.
“If it was my son and nothing was being done, it would be very hard for me to go through. This is a way to honour him.”