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‘People in curling are here for you’: A letter to Aly Jenkins’s children from Sandra Schmirler’s daughter

Aly Jenkins, a prominent member of the Saskatchewan curling community, died last year due to complications of childbirth. Jenkins was survived by her husband and three children.

Sara England lost her mother, Sandra Schmirler, 20 years ago. Schmirler was a curling icon. 

England has written the following letter for Jenkins’ children.

Dear Brady, Avery and Sydney,

I know the struggles, heartache and anger you are going to have as you get older. 

You’ll wonder why something so horrible happened to you and your family. It’s okay to have those angry feelings. You are allowed to be upset because what happened isn’t fair and it isn’t right. 

Its been 20 years since my mom passed and I still have those feelings. But I want you to know that you will get through it and become a stronger person than you ever thought you could be. 

Aly Jenkins died after complications related to an amniotic fluid embolism after giving birth to her third child. (Submitted by CurlSask)

With my mom passing away when I was just two years old, I don’t have many memories of her. I struggle with that.

I am jealous that people in curling and across the country got to know my mom and I didn’t. As I got older, I turned those jealous feelings into an opportunity to learn who my mom is.

Your mom may have been taken away from you, but her spirit, passion and love live in others. Take every story someone tells you, every word they use to describe her, and get to know who she is. 

There will be days where it hurts more than others. Lean on each other for strength and comfort. Don’t fear the sadness you feel, talk about it and help each other get through those low moments. 

There will be days where you wonder about all the “what ifs.” The biggest one will be “what if she was here?”

Your mom, like mine, may not physically be here, but she is always with you. You will feel her with you in everything you do. You can talk to her at any moment and, even though she may not be able to answer, you will feel what she is saying to you. 

Curling legend Sandra Schmirler poses with her daughter Sara England at the 1998 Scotties in Regina. (Supplied by Sara England)

Your mom, like mine, is a curler and will always be a curler. Curling has become more than a sport for me. It will be the same for you. 

Curling is a community and support system that your mom has introduced to you. There is such a tight bond the curling community has created among all players. Curling rinks have become safe places for me because the people there share the same love for the sport my mom did.

When I was roughly eight years old, my dad and grandma decided it was time to join the Learn to Curl program. At the time I had zero interest in trying to learn. Now I have been curling for 15 years. I couldn’t be more grateful for the sport, the people I have met and the opportunities I’ve had. 

Curling has given me the opportunity to connect with my mom. When I am on the ice there are moments I can feel her with me. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. 

The late Sandra Schmirler, centre, skipped Canada to its first-ever Olympic curling gold medal when she won at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. (Gary M Prior/Allsport/Getty Images)

Sara England curls at the 2019 Canadian Juniors in Prince Albert, Sask. (Curling Canada/Supplied by Sara England)

Even if you don’t find yourself playing the sport, I want you to know that the people in curling are here for you, as I am.

When you’re feeling alone or like no one understands what you’re going through, I want you to know that I do. 

When you need some extra support in your life, I want you to know the curling family is waiting to hold you up. 

When you are upset that you didn’t get to know her as well as others did, remember she lives within you. 

Always remember that.

One of your many supporters,


This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.

Interested in writing for us? We accept pitches for opinion and point-of-view pieces from Saskatchewan residents who want to share their thoughts on the news of the day, issues affecting their community or who have a compelling personal story to share. No need to be a professional writer!

Read more about what we’re looking for here, then email sask-opinion-grp@cbc.ca with your idea.

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