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Al’s Story

Al’s Story

Just prior to his death, Alex went on some long hikes in the mountains. He posted pictures and stories of those hikes and erected several stacked rock piles along his way. Stacked rocks, commonly known as Cairns, placed along a trail signify that you are on the right path or in cases where navigation becomes difficult and the trail may be easily lost to assure you’re on the right path.

Al was looking for something on those hikes. Unfortunately, he never found it. Team Alex wants help young athletes, coach and parents on their path to improved mental health, overcoming bullying issues and suicide awareness; and through that, A World without Suicide

Alex was a happy, gentle kid and grew to be a thoughtful,easy-going young man. He was the favorite of many, largely because of his calm, steady energy and accepting nature. Alex looked down on, or ever had a bad thing to say about anyone. He was an introvert that valued family, and rarely missed an opportunity to spend time with them. He made everyone feel valued and important in every interaction with them, simply by being himself.

Alex had many challenges throughout his life; starting with the diagnosis of severe hemophilia as a baby. Though this meant he would have to learn to deal with significant limitations physically, with too many injections and chronic joint pain; he never complained. As with the many challenges that would come his way, he took it all in stride; always a smile.

Unfortunately, all the qualities that made him so special and unique, also made him an easy target for bullies. This made school and a focus on learning very difficult for Alex, and he continued to struggle with this through adulthood.

From the outside looking in, by all accounts Alex seemed content, with a quiet confidence. He was greatly loved and cherished by all who knew him; he was impossible not to love. Perhaps this is why his suicide was so shocking. He was truly admired and dear to so many; we just didn’t know that he couldn’t see this specialness in himself.

Alexander Ennis was born on October 9, 1992, in Calgary, Alberta. He was born with severe hemophilia. With this illness, Alex was always at high risk for serious injury from any trauma. Life was hard for Al. His illness caused him to have so many painful injections of clotting factor. At the age of 5, despite the limitations that Al faced, he fell in love with hockey, so, with all the protective equipment available, he played first with Stettler Minor Hockey then Red Deer Minor Hockey. Alex and his older brother Curtis enjoyed this popular sport for most of their youth.

At the age of 10, Alex entered the Pee Wee level, where “hit” hockey is first introduced. Alex was no longer able to play because of the high risk involved with his severe hemophilia and because there was no other option in Minor Hockey. That’s when Red Deer Pond Hockey was born. His father Brian decided to start a league in Red Deer that would allow Al and other youth with barriers of any kind to play the sport they loved. Al played throughout his youth as well as working with his dad to coach other teams. Al also tried out refereeing games in the league. He loved every minute of his hockey career; it was his element.

Hemophilia also sat him on the benches during most school gym classes. Al was bullied throughout middle and High School, an easy target for those kids that found joy in hurting others. Through all of this Al persevered, trying so hard to fit in, to find his place in the world. He struggled in post-secondary education, unable to complete a computer program at NAIT, then struggled with upgrading to become an LPN. As hard as he tried, he was unable to get through the demanding pressures and training required.

Al moved to Edmonton in 2016. He worked in customer service, was very good at it, but always aspired to do more. He found a good friend, and they rented an apartment together. He did well, seemed happy. He was close to and loved his extended family, he especially fell in love with his niece Lennon and loved spending time with her. During the winter & Spring of 2019, Al went on several long hikes in the mountains. He posted pictures and comments online. His family was surprised that he was able to do that with his hemophilia, but he really seemed to enjoy this new pastime. He and his father talked about going together on one of these adventures. We learned later that these trips were his effort to spend time alone and decide what to do with his life.

On May 22, 2019, Al’s family woke up at 2:50 am to read a text that Al had sent to each of them. Our world was shattered, in shock and disbelief, unfathomable pain and grief. Our lives would never be the same without our precious son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend, by far the worst day of our lives.

Our family and the Team Alex team is now committed to doing what we can to stop this from happening to other families.