'Most Canadian Photo Ever' To Help Syrian Refugees, Small-Town Hockey Rink

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As soon as the photo hit the Internet, RCMP Cpl. Shaun Begg knew he was onto something big.

Begg is the Mountie clad in an iconic red serge, playing hockey on B.C.'s Shamrock Lake, in what's been called "the most Canadian photo ever."

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Nine months later, the officer is using his online fame the only "way a Canadian would": donating proceeds from sales of the photo's prints to help his old hockey rink, as well as Syrian refugees moving to Canada.

"All of us were blown away by the response we got from the picture," Begg told The Huffington Post B.C. in a phone interview Tuesday. "It obviously struck a chord with a lot of Canadians, and we were asked immediately what our plans were for the photo."

The officer didn't do much with the picture after posting it online, but people kept hunting him down to ask for prints.

Then, the former detachment commander realized the opportunity he had in his hands.

"We thought, 'Well, we don't have to let this die. We can do something good with the photo,'" Begg explained.

He and the photographer behind the famous image, Rick Wiltse, decided to sell prints, with sales benefitting the Kaslo, B.C. hockey arena where Begg once played.

"That's what being Canadian is — being compassionate, generous, and always wanting to step up."

The Mountie, who has since been transferred from Kaslo to Smithers, said it was a "no-brainer" to help his old neighbours.

"Hockey rinks in small Canadian communities are invaluable," he said.

But Begg didn't want to stop there. He and Wiltse wanted to do something for new Canadians, too.

"Helping Syrian refugees was just a natural fit. I have a three-year-old daughter and seeing pictures of that boy who drowned on the beach is forever burned in my head," Begg explained.

"I got to fulfill my dream of being a Mountie and of playing [hockey] on a glacial-fed lake. I thought, 'Let's do something great for people who dream of coming to Canada.'

"That's what being Canadian is — being compassionate, generous, and always wanting to step up."

Begg said the fundraiser for the rink and the incoming refugees is being co-ordinated on his own time, and isn't affiliated with the RCMP whatsoever — but he's more than happy to put in the effort.

"I'm a super proud Mountie, and I'm super proud to highlight how compassionate and caring we are as Canadians. It's the natural thing to do."

Find the fundraiser and copies of the photo here.

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