Although Norma Kejick didn’t know Reggie Bushie, the teen’s death has always been hard for her.
“I walked that river for three days looking for him. When they pulled him out of the river, it was very hard on me. It’s still one I haven’t dealt with today,” she said.
Kejick, the executive director for the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council, was on hand Friday for Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School’s third annual memorial walk for the seven students they’ve lost since the school opened in 2000.
The body of 15-year-old Bushie was found in the McIntyre River in 2007.
Friday’s ceremony and walk also honoured Jethro Anderson, Robyn Harper, Kyle Morrisseau, Paul Panacheese, Curran Strang and Jordan Wabasse.
Kejick said the walk is not only important to remember the students that have died but to bring awareness to the students the danger of not just drinking, but drinking by the river.
The staff and students of the school walked from DFC Friday to the McIntyre floodway, close to where Morrisseau’s body was found.
After the first walk two years ago, Kejick said she was thanked for a student for bringing them to the river and said he never drank by the river again.
“If that’s one person we’ve kept away from the river, then the walk is that much more important for us to continue to do it,” she said.
DFC principal Jonathan Kakegamic said the mood was heavy Friday and that it’s important to teach the students how to grieve and remember the people they’ve lost.
He said he believes each student they’ve lost left them a lesson they need to learn from and one of those lessons is the dangers or alcohol.
“The kids need to learn not to depend on alcohol to solve their problems, to make them feel good,” he said.
“The second point is they need to learn to ask for help because once you get past asking for help, there are so many opportunities you could learn from and grown from,” he added.
Kakegamic said he wants the students to be empowered and help them move forward in their lives.
“These are youth that are away from home at such a crucial age in their development. We need to take on that role to create awareness and teach them values, the work ethic and there’s a purpose in life,” he said.
The key to keeping the students safe is consistency, said Kakegamic, noting they need to be reminded every day to make the right choices and keep working towards their goals.
“Every one of my students in the school has a strength and we need to capitalize on that because that will get them through the day,” he said.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.