The mother of a southern Alberta man who was killed earlier this year is desperate to find her son’s hockey ring that was stolen from her vehicle this week.
Melodie Hunt-Ayoungman was in Lethbridge attending a conference at the Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge when her vehicle was broken into early Thursday morning. One of the items stolen was her son Kristian Ayoungman’s hockey ring from when he played Midget AA.
Kristian was shot to death on March 17 on a rural highway near Strathmore. The 24-year-old was a Siksika Nation member, a Junior B Hockey player for the Siksika Buffaloes senior AA hockey team and a former player with Strathmore’s Wheatland Kings.
He was proud of his Indigenous roots and travelled North America competing in traditional dance. Melodie said he was a champion traditional dancer.
“My son was a role model to our youth. A lot of people looked up to him. Anybody who just met him knew he had a very kind, compassionate heart. If anybody wronged him, he forgave them in two seconds,” Melodie said Saturday.
Since Kristian’s death, Melodie has kept her son’s ring with her. She has worn it on all special occasions, including her convocation when she obtained her master of education degree in June.
“Whenever I’m having a down day, I would wear it with me. Just knowing I have a piece of him with me. He’s gone. At least I have something that he cherished with me that really meant a lot,” Melodie said.
She said RCMP have surveillance video from the hotel of the theft. Melodie said everything else that was stolen can be replaced — but not the ring.
“I lost my son in a tragic event and we didn’t expect for him to leave us so suddenly. At least it’s something in a good way that I can keep with me and keep it near and dear to me, a piece of him,” Melodie said.
Melodie’s family has been overwhelmed by the support they have received from the hockey community and people in Siksika and Strathmore since her son’s death.
“Everything that everybody is doing means a lot because it shows there is understanding going on out there — that the face of racism should be no longer. That should be gone and done with,” Melodie said.
“The compassion and support that people are showing today is the true nature of my son. And that is what is coming out: the true nature of the way we raised my boy.”
Two brothers, Kody and Brandon Giffen, have been charged with first-degree murder in Kristian’s death.