Cpl. Shane Keating seemed destined for the military life. He was a cadet as a teenager, joined the reserves after high school and later joined the regular force. He led by example and was known as a good soldier and a hard worker dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. He served two tours in Bosnia and wanted to serve in Afghanistan, where he was posted in 2006. While there, he performed his required duties, but also did things for others on his own accord such as taking food to old women in the area.

Shane’s desire to help others began well before his military career. In grade nine, he stated that his ambition was “to make the world happy.” Many of the ways he worked towards this goal were outside his military work. He coached curling for the Special Olympics in Manitoba and volunteered at the Brandon hospital when he was based in Shilo.

Even as a child, Shane put others first. In Grade 1, he was late for school one morning because he helped a little girl, who got stuck in a mud puddle in the park. Because he got covered in mud, he needed to go home to clean up before going to school. As a teenager, he took the rap—and the punishment—for his buddies when he got caught climbing the town’s grain elevators but refused to point the finger at his co-conspirators.

Drama and music were passions for Shane. He often tried out for school drama productions—especially comedies—and he played guitar and joined a synchronized drum band. He competed in a range of sports such as curling, baseball, football, hockey, water polo and badminton. He even liked a game called broomalloo that his battalion created.

Shane had an interest in history and politics and stayed well informed about world events. He enjoyed travelling and getting to know other places. He visited Italy with his sisters Erin and Meghan and toured the country again later on motorcycles with his brother Ken. The brothers also took other motorcycle trips together in Canada and the US.

Friends and family knew Shane as a joker with a great smile who loved to give bear hugs and to make others laugh. He was a warm, open person. He enjoyed a good conversation and never backed down from an argument. When away on tours, he always kept closely in touch with the people he cared about.

At work or at play, Shane approached everything he did with deep commitment. He strongly believed in and was proud of his military missions. He understood the dangers of going into a war zone and took the risk willingly. He once told his mother, “We won’t all come home. Those that don’t will have made a difference and it was worth it.”

To honour Shane’s life and contributions to his community, a group of young parents, who are rebuilding the local park in Dalmeny, plan to dedicate it in his honour. Prairie Park (the same park where he rescued the little girl in Grade 1) will have a plaque for Shane and will be dedicated with a ceremony in 2015. In addition, a tree was planted in his name at Woodlawn Cemetery in Saskatoon.

By: Tracey Anderson

Portrait by Shairl Honey