Losing a Loved One and Community Member to Murder

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Action sought on a national inquiry into murdered and missing Anishinabek women
The Sisters in Spirit vigils bear witness to this national tragedy

Action sought on a national inquiry into murdered and missing Anishinabek womenTHUNDER BAY – Two youth lost their lives to a violent murder on Friday, October 3, 2014 in Thunder Bay, ON.

Friday, October 3, 2014 a 20-year-old male of Sachigo Lake First Nation was stabbed to death. The suspect, 19-year-old Shane Patrick Ashpanaquestcum of Summer Beaver First Nation was charged with second degree murder.

The community and region of Thunder Bay have lost two youth to this senseless murder. One young man lost his life to death and another young man will lose his life to jail and earning the title of a murder.

It is the ninth city murder to be committed this year that has forever changed lives of the homicide family members and friends and local residents.

Each murder has been an unspeakable tragedy for the victims and perpetrator’s family members, friends and community members.

Losing a child or a loved one as a victim or perpetrator of a homicide is one of the most traumatic experiences that an individual or a community can face.

Not one family or community member of the murder victim’s or perpetrators could have prepared any of us for this recent murder and past murders.

A murder causes us to face trauma, a range of emotions and ask a lot of questions.

Everyone becomes affected by a homicide.

The family members, friends, co-workers, peers, neighbours, community members and government leaders and even local organizations and businesses are affected by a person losing their life to death or jail of a homicide.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of both these youth and all homicide victims and survivors this year and in past years. Your time of grief and facing loss and pain is unimaginable.

The loss of a loved one to murder can and will bring many losses to the homicide survivors and community members.

It is a time when we as a community must support the homicide survivors, each other and various related organizations and employed personnel who handle homicides.

In the days, weeks, months and years following the loss of a loved one to a sudden and violent death will bring tremendous grief and loss. There is no amount of justice or prayer that will bring back the loved one from death or jail.

Survivor grief can last a long time.  Community tensions and negative emotions towards such incidents can boil over. Relationships amongst survivors and community members can be broken.

In my opinion, this is not a time to run towards political agendas and use a murder crime as an election platform. This is not a time to break relationships. This is not a time to become angry and act out. This is not a time to take justice in to your own hands.

In my opinion, this is a time to first and foremost support the homicide survivors. This is a time to strengthen our community. This is a time to reach out to our politicians, civil servants, social workers and educators to offer our support. This is a time for us to become empathetic and get more involved positively in our community. This is a time to support the justice system and crime prevention and treatment programs.

The survivors of a homicide will likely face the tragedy of the loss of the loved one in many situations in the years to come.

A homicide can bring on survivors guilt, depression, anger, hurt, the loss of companionship, the loss of relationships with family and community members, friends and co-workers and the survivors can face the loss of family income coming into the home or their job due to grief leading to the loss of their home and finances, loss of finances for an unexpected funeral and they can lose hope and faith and many other losses.

The community of Thunder Bay is facing many losses to right now too.

People are feeling the loss of their security and safety and faith in the justice system, political leaders, crime programs, law enforcement and positivity in the community and the image of the community.

In my opinion, this is a time for us to come together as a community to keep our faith and offer our support to one another.

Perhaps more than ever, it is a time for our political leaders, homicide professionals and law enforcements to publicly address how we has a community can work together to overcome such tragedies and crime in our community.

I’m asking organizations, law enforcement and political leaders to publicity state how the homicide survivors and community members will be and can be supported during their time of grief and losses they will face and how we can rebuild our sense of safety and security in Thunder Bay.

The community should identify the impacts of these murders and how the impact of this most recent murder will have on the homicide survivors and local and regional community members.

We should identify how we can offer our support to one another and share our grief and feelings about this recent murder and all past murders in our community.

Most of all we should give the homicide survivors privacy to mourn this recent public death and all murders and simply offer our condolences, support and prayers.

Moving forward our possible best course of action for this community could be to support community programs, organizations, justice systems and governments who handle social issues by volunteering our time and expertise to them; donating money, food and household items; hosting open forums and grief support circles to talk about the issues facing this community and acting as friendly neighbours, good leaders and role models to each other.

If you or someone you know is having a hard time coping with this recent or a past community homicide and you or they live in north Western, Ontario or Thunder Bay my suggestion would be:

·       Share your thoughts and feelings with a person you can trust. It can be a family member, friend, neighbour, community member, and guidance counsellor, organization, employer, social worker, civil servant, and law enforcement agencies or community leaders.

·       Call 211 to access information about local services and help lines.

·       Contact a professional community organization, church/faith based help or person who works in social services or counselling who can help you to understand and manage your feelings to reduce harmful impacts to your sense of safety, security, health and wellness.

Police, Fire, Ambulance: 911

Crisis and Suicide Response: 1.807.346.8282 or Toll Free 1.888.269.3100

O.P.P: 1.888.269.3100

Anishnabek Police Service: 1.800.438.5638

Beendigen Inc. Women’s Crisis Line: 1.807.346.4357

Faye Peterson Transition House: 1.800.465.6971 or 1.807.345.0450

Kids Help Phone: 1.800.668.6868

Senior Safety Line: 1.866.299.1011

TeleHealth Ontario: 1.866.797.0000

Thunder Bay Counselling Centre: 1.807.684.1880

Thunder Bay Regional Hospital: 1.807.684.4000

Heartfelt sympathy goes out to both of these youth’s family and friends and all homicide survivors in Thunder Bay, ON.

As you cope with the death of your loved one or the loss of your family member to jail, I hope you find support and strength from others or your creator.

If you are facing feelings of denial, anger, guilt, pain or grief during your devastating loss may you embrace your feelings, may you take time to grieve and heal, may you find love and support around you, may you be gentle with yourself and may you find support through a medical doctor, therapist, your faith, your family, through a bereavement group and through the gift of time.

With love and support from one woman’s opinion,

S.B.W