By Peter Moon
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug – The body of Josiah Begg, the 14-year old Junior Canadian Ranger from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug who was found dead in Thunder Bay’s McIntyre River after a two-week search, is back in his home community.
“I would say the majority of the people in the community were at the airport to see it arrive,” said Warrant Officer Rob Wen, a Canadian Army instructor. “There were so many the local Canadian Rangers had to organize the parking.”
The casket was loaded onto the back of a pick up truck and was flanked by eight Junior Canadian Rangers, many of them crying and sobbing, as it made its way from the airport to the church for viewing before the funeral on Monday.
“The JCRs (Junior Canadian Rangers) were upset,” Warrant Officer Wen said. “Josiah was their friend and they all knew him. They were so upset they had difficulty handling the casket.”
Other Canadian Rangers and Junior Rangers were at the airport and at the church along a large crowd of mourners. The casket was draped with a Junior Canadian Ranger flag with a green Junior Ranger sweatshirt and cap on it.
“His death has affected the community greatly,” said Sergeant Spencer Anderson, commander of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Ranger patrol. “It was a very sad day to see him return in a casket. I had a lump in my throat and there were a lot of tears. It was hard for the JCRs to approach the aircraft to transport the casket but they did a good job.”
“There will be a lot of Rangers and JCRs from outlying communities for the funeral,” Warrant Officer Wen said. “We are expecting them from Peawanuck, Bearskin Lake, and maybe Fort Severn as well.”
The boy’s father, Rene Begg, is a local Canadian Ranger and he was one of six Kitchenuhmaykoosib Rangers who participated as volunteers in the search for Josiah in Thunder Bay.
The youth went missing in Thunder Bay on May 6, after travelling 600 kilometres to the city from Kitchenuhmaykoosib with his father to access medical services that are not available in the fly-in community. His body was found on May 18.
A second Junior Canadian Ranger, Tammy Keeash, 17, of North Caribou Lake, also disappeared on May 6 during a visit to Thunder Bay . Her body was discovered the following day in the Neebing-McIntyre Floodway.
Indigenous leaders in Thunder Bay have called for inquests to be held into the deaths.
Sergeant Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden.
Photos in this article were taken by Warrant Officer Ron Wen, Canadian Army.
Our entire team at NetNewsLedger express our heartfelt thoughts and prayer to the family and friends of Josiah Begg and to the community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug.