No more kids in the river – RIP Jordan Wabasse

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DFC Memorial Walk - No More Kids in the River
DFC Memorial Walk 2012 - Students remember the missing and dead students

Jordan Wabasse No More kids in the riverTHUNDER BAY – Editorial – No more kids in the river. Jordan Wabasse never made it home on February 7 2011. The young man from Webequie First Nation was a promising goaltender, a passionate artist, and a young man at the start of his journey of life. Jordan’s body was found in the Kaministiqua River.

His family and friends still miss Jordan. Thunder Bay should miss Jordan. Webequie First Nation misses their young man, and the lost promise. Across the North, families worry about their young people coming to our city to further their education.

I never met Jordan. But I miss Jordan Wabasse. I see his face in the faces of many friends. 

The cold statistics are that Jordan was the eighth First Nations student to go missing over the past decade in Thunder Bay.

Jordan’s life brought happiness to his friends. One of his friends has shared with me the difficulty of missing her friend. In his grandmother Beulah, the heartfelt loss and pain is very evident.

No More Kids in the River

From Jordan’s disappearance however has come some positive actions.  There is a new pilot project with a public private partnership between the City of Thunder Bay, Wasaya Group, and Youth Centres Thunder Bay to put down the roots for a youth centre in our city so that young people can have safe places to go. 

There is a greater understanding between growing numbers of people in Thunder Bay that we are all in the development of the future of our Emerging Thunder Bay together. More and more people are understanding that as a worthy goal.

The Ontario Government has announced that there will be an inquest into the missing youth in our community.

There are also growing opportunities for youth as Aboriginal groups including Nishnawbe-Aski Nation are stepping up to take increased responsibility for the safety of Aboriginal people in our city. 

In many ways there are really only three ways to go. One would be to ignore what has happened, and point fingers of blame at everyone over what has happened in the past.

That way is unacceptable. We would spend hours upon hours in unproductive debate. 

[sws_pullquote_right]All my hopes and dreams are of the future, I plan on spending the rest of my life living there [/sws_pullquote_right]

Next would be to start working together with people, governments, social groups and business all working toward the future. Incredibly, far too many look at progress in building buildings, when in fact the most important buildings are when solid relationships are build.

Bricks and mortar are not as long lasting

 Bricks and mortar are not what is really building Thunder Bay. New buildings are at best a demonstration of activity, and where there are solid people relationships being built, that is a far longer lasting investment.

Often too many people get caught up in the here and the now, and they forget what is really important. Civic Administration in the City of Thunder Bay can get so busy doing the administrative side of what they see as important that they lose sight of people who are impacted. 

Eight young people, coming to Thunder Bay to attend high school have returned home in coffins. 

That is an issue that while very emotional, is one that must be solved. 

Relationships are built on respect

The City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation have started on a new relationship. The Ontario Government is working to have greater engagement and respect in the future developing relationship with the North. Those kinds of moves offer real potential for a positive future.

That future must include the firm decision that we have ‘No More Kids in the River’.

The solutions and promise of the future must be built on a new foundation of engagement, trust, and respect. 

Rest in peace Jordan! 

Let all of us in our city focus on making sure that Thunder Bay becomes the place where all of us can live in a vibrant and exciting and safe community.

James Murray

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