Yellowknife residents are paying tribute to the life of Paula Harker, who has passed away suddenly at the age of 48.

Paula is believed to have suffered a stroke. A Yellowknifer for many years, she was a well-known member of the city’s volleyball community.

A communications official with the federal Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs since the early 1990s, Paula later joined the territorial Department of Lands before moving to head up the territory’s corporate communications team last year.

“There are people who are simply and profoundly good. They embody decency. And kindness. And integrity. They shine with the purest of light,” wrote Zoe Raemer, Paula’s former colleague. “Paula’s light will never dim.”

Paula Scott wrote beneath a photo of both women playing volleyball: “Somehow we have to say goodbye today. To my friend, my team-mate of over 20 years. In this picture we retired our dirty old knee pads together but I always thought I could talk us both into one more tournament. Rest in peace my dear friend. You will be so very sadly missed.”

Paula and Brooke Harker
Photo courtesy of Zoe Raemer.

In response, one friend added: “The next time we hear thunder, that’s Paula hitting a volleyball.”

In an email to Cabin Radio, Toni Riley – also a former colleague – wrote: “I, like so many in Paula’s vast circle, am reeling. How do you boil down Paula Harker into a soundbite? She was quite possibly the loveliest person it has been my privilege to know.

“She has been a colleague, a mentor, a boss, and throughout it all one of my dearest friends. Always quick to help if you needed it, or support you to find your own path. She planned, and she organized: for her family, for her work, her friends, for her children’s schools and for their sports teams.

“She was fearless and she was understated, all quiet grace and no fuss. Much too soon to lose this bright light. Through organ donation I take great comfort in knowing her big, caring heart lives on.”

Paula leaves behind her husband, Brooke, and two children.