Calgary’s Sikh community mourns loss of hiker presumed drowned in river north of Lake Louise

CALGARY — He’s described as caring, kind, and generous. 

Condolences are continuing to pour in for 23-year-old Gagandeep Singh Khalsa of Calgary, who fell into the frigid waters of the North Saskatchewan River while hiking last weekend just north of the Lake Louise area. 

The incident happened around 7 p.m Saturday when RCMP responded near Glacier Lake for reports of a man who fell into water. Extensive search efforts have been ongoing ever since. 

Sources confirm Khalsa had climbed onto some rocks so his friends could snap a photo, when he suddenly lost his footing. 

The two friends he was with had plans to go to Jasper, but are now devastated as several others have joined in search efforts. 

An RCMP spokesperson said river currents have enormous power and asked Albertans to exercise caution.

“It can easily trap even strong swimmers,” said Dwight Borden. “Stay on a trail beach or behind the railings. Slips, trips, and falls can occur on sharp or slippery rocks, on even ground.

Khalsa had moved to Canada from Punjab, India just four years ago. He was an only child and attended Bow Valley College in the medical office assistant program. He had also been working for the last couple of years, sending any money he could back home to his parents.   

Several members of the Dashmeesh Cultural Centre (DCC) say he was a huge part of the community, having volunteered any chance he could and always participating in a number of events. 

“He was always smiling,” said DCC President, Amanpreet Singh Gill. 

“He was a very hardworking volunteer here, very devoted, doing a lot here at the Sikh Temple in Calgary and was very excited to be here in Canada —  he loved the outdoors, mountains and rivers.”

Gill added that Khalsa had gotten engaged three months ago to his girlfriend who currently lives in Australia. 

Plans are in place for a tribute to his life at the cultural centre as members continue to send prayers, love and support in the wake of their loss.

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