Janine Melnitz: “You are so kind to take care of that man. You know, you’re a real humanitarian.”

Egon Spengler: “I don’t think he’s human.”

That was a quote from one of Brian’s favourite movies growing up, Ghostbusters. And like the character Egon Spengler whom Janine Melnitz calls a humanitarian, Sapper Brian Collier was himself a humanitarian.

Like other young boys, Brian was a huge fan of the Ghostbusters franchise, even naming his sister after the character of Janine. His family recalls the humour when he planned out the names for his new sibling – Janine if it was a girl and Egon Spengler if it was a boy. “Thank goodness,” the family thought, relieved at the notion of not having to name their newborn Egon Spengler.

Brian also loved sports, the great outdoors, and anything to do with cars, trains, and aircrafts. He lived in his first car, described as a Little Tikes cozy coup, for a year, wearing out the wheels until he got a new car. After cars, Brian moved on to trains, then fighter jets, and then GI Joes. Everyone could see his passion and love for automobiles, even Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance, commander of Task Force Kandahar, who once said, “Brian was an enthusiast of fine automobiles, and loved to spend time with his Audi.” Vance went on to say that Brian was “always quick to smile [and] had an easygoing nature and a great sense of humour.”

It was his easygoing nature and love for the outdoors that brought Brian to Alberta. He loved the Rockies and even chose the base in Edmonton to be closer to the Rockies and be able to go snowboarding. He was always passionate about sports, playing hockey as a defencemen in his youth, then going on to play baseball as a catcher, to developing his love for snowboarding, Brian lived an active life. But the one thing he was more passionate about than sports was his love of family, friends, and country. From the young, defencemen hockey player, he grew up to defend his country on foreign soil.

Brian was proud to be a soldier and proved it every day he spent in uniform. “Any Canadian who could have seen Brian in action would have been proud of him and proud of our country for the work being done with and for Afghans,” said Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance. And that’s what it all came down to for Brian, pride. The pride he had as a Canadian and as a man in uniform.

“The bravery and remarkable commitment of Canadians like Sapper Collier are bringing safety and stability to the people of Afghanistan…every day, their dedication and work protect our interests and values here at home and around the world,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And like Egon Spengler, Sapper Brian Collier is himself a humanitarian because of his pursuance of a better life for all. Whether that is here in Canada, as a son and a brother, or in Afghanistan, as a soldier, who sought to alleviate the suffering of locals and instead promote human welfare and social reform.

By: Tigest Mulugeta

Portrait by Shairl Honey