Cochrane woman killed in backcountry ‘had soft heart for downtrodden,’ parents say

The parents of a Cochrane woman who died in an April backcountry accident say their daughter had a soft heart for the broken and abused.

Lanea Schroeder’s parents describe her as an energetic kid who was always climbing something.

They say she loved the outdoors almost as much as she loved helping people.

“She has always had a soft heart for the downtrodden,” said John Paetkau, Lanea’s dad. “She was our kid who would say: ‘This isn’t right,’ and she wanted to do something about it.”

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Lanea Schroeder, in a photo provided by her parents, John and Leanne Paetkau.

On April 13, Lanea was at Mount des Poulis in Yoho National Park with a group of five skiers. The group members left their skis down lower and were hiking up the summit ridge. Lanea was hiking there when a cornice collapsed.

She died as a result of the fall.

Read more: Alberta woman dies after falling on Mont des Poilus, B.C. ascent

“The party was able to use their SOS InReach they had, and they also had a radio,” said Parks Canada’s Steve Holeczi in April. “They were well prepared. They got ahold of us right away and were able to help us with locating (them) over the radio.

“They also had a rope and they were able to try and get someone over the edge just to have a look to see what happened.

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“Given the circumstances, they did everything that they could.”

Read more: Hikers warned against walking on cornices in Kananaskis

Lanea was a hiking guide apprentice who volunteered with outreach groups in Calgary, helping get women out of the sex trade.

“She took women snowshoeing and hiking and she taught them how to make sourdough bread,” said Lanea’s mom Leanne Paetkau. “She wanted them to know home skills and to be healthy.

“She just wanted them to know that they are loved and that they are accepted and she wanted to do something to make their lives better – to know that there’s a way out.”

Read more: Calgary girl who died in skiing accident remembered with Abby Award

Lanea spent 17 years of her life living in Ukraine where her parents did missionary work with SEND International.

She spoke Russian, Ukrainian and German and still called Ukraine her home.

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Her parents say she agonized over the fate of friends still living there and did what she could to help.

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“We are grieving very deeply. We grieve deeply for Ukraine and we grieve deeply for the loss of our daughter and we rejoice greatly because we know that she finished well,” John said.

“Yes, it was too short, but she finished well. She’s at home with Jesus now.”

Read more: 13-year-old Edmonton boy killed while skiing at Lake Louise

Lanea and her husband Logan travelled the world doing missionary work in six countries. They loved the outdoors and being in the mountains.

Logan said he’s been comforted by all the people Lanea has helped in her short lifetime, including the youth she volunteered with in Cochrane.

“She was working individually with kids from the youth group to coach them through how to make healthy life choices and how to eat well and how to study their Bible well because those two things actually go hand-in-hand,” Logan said.

“She sought excellence in everything she did. She wanted to develop her skills, she wanted to do the best she could.”

Lanea Schroeder with her husband Logan Schroeder. John and Leanne Paetkau

Lanea’s parents said she didn’t shy away from taking calculated risks but it was always risk with a purpose.

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“Life without risk isn’t worth living,” John said, “so let’s make it useful.”

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