Our daughter, Captain Nichola Goddard, has been portrayed in the media as a strong leader, an officer who cared for her soldiers, and one who believed in the importance of her work and of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. She was all those things, but she was also so much more.

Nichola was an avid outdoors-woman. She was an accomplished cross-country skier, and when she lived in those provinces she was a member of both the Alberta and Nova Scotia junior women Nordic ski teams. She loved camping and hiking, especially in the winter, perhaps because of her years spent living in northern Saskatchewan and on Baffin Island. She loved animals, and had two dogs and two cats she had brought from the animal shelter. She dreamed of owning a boarding kennel when she left the Army.

Nichola had a huge smile, and an even bigger heart. She was a volunteer scout leader and a faithful member of the Anglican church. She was always a caring person. Once, during a ski race, a competitor became hypothermic and collapsed by the side of the track. Nichola stopped and helped him down to the finish, losing any chance of winning the race herself. After that, her friends all called her ‘care bear’. At Shilo, she agreed to shave her head as part of a Cancer Fundraiser, and her men gleefully auctioned off the right to wield the razor. She raised a lot of money.

Nichola was born in Madang, Papua New Guinea, where her parents were teaching. She grew up around the world, attending seven schools before graduating from high school. She often joked that one reason she joined the Army was for the structure!

nichola and familyNichola spent her childhood growing up with her two sisters, Victoria and Kate, in places such as Black Lake, a native reserve in northern Saskatchewan where she won a prize for being the best Dene speaker in Kindergarten. The family then moved to Dundurn, just outside of Saskatchewan, where she learned how to ride a bike and skip rope, something she hadn’t had an opportunity to do on the reserve. Tim and Sally spent hours in the backyard turning the rope so she could practice. In Baffin Island, Nichola and her two sisters took a skidoo ride with their dad onto the ice to finally see the sun again. It was February, minus 22, and Nichola took off her snowsuit and danced in the sun.

Nichola was the eldest of the three girls, and leaves to grieve her parents, her sisters, her husband, Jason, and so many more.

In one of her regular letters home from Afghanistan, Nichola observed that the work of her father, an associate dean at the University of Calgary, and his colleagues in the field of post-conflict educational development was only possible because of people like her and her men. "I do what I do so you can do what you do," she said.

The family spent Christmas together and spent the holidays in Wales with Nichola’s grandmother and many members of her family. She then spent time in Sault Ste. Marie with her maternal grandparents. Before she was deployed to Afghanistan, she gathered in Calgary with her husband, parents and sisters for a weekend of family time. The one stipulation she gave before agreeing to the family weekend was that it not be a sad weekend. It wasn’t.

We spoke with Nichola on Monday night. She called saying she wouldn’t be able to talk to Tim on his birthday, which was Wednesday. She was anxious to get out of the Kandahar base, as she was far happier in the hills, and was keen to get on with the job. She was never a paper pusher, she wanted to be a combat officer. She was happier outside the wire with her men.

We are in the process of setting up a scholarship fund in Nichola’s memory. We will release more information on that once details are finalized.

The funeral will be held in Calgary, at St Barnabas’ Anglican Church, at a date to be determined.

Nichola lived her life fully. She died too young, but she died doing something she believed was important, something she was good at, something she loved doing, and surrounded by people she enjoyed and respected. We shall all miss her dearly.

Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard