By Jennifer Ashawasegai
MAGNETAWAN FN — A group of some 80 people surrounded an erected cross, a memorial to the lives that were lost earlier this month in a deadly crash. In the background, on Highway 69, the usual steady flow of Sunday traffic passed by Magnetewan First Nation.
“Grief,” said Elder Brian Nootchtai, Sr. “is a way of expressing celebration of life.” Dressed in their blue team jerseys, the Atikameksheng Eagles huddled together on the cold and sunny morning while they listened to the words of the Elder.
Nootchtai conducted a memorial service on March 22, for the three lives that were lost in a tragic accident on Highway 69 on March 19, 2015. They were travelling home from the Lil Native NHL tournament in Mississauga.
The three fatalities included 13 year-old Ember Wynne who played for the Atikameksheng Eagles, a three month-old infant, and the driver, 71 year-old William Tuck. All three were from Red Rock First Nation. Two other people who were also travelling in the van are in hospital. OPP said the van was exiting Hwy 529 when it drove into the path of a tractor trailer on Hwy 69.
The service was held in Magnetewan First Nation, close to where the accident happened. About 80 people attended the service to remember and support the family.
Both Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee and Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare attended the ceremony along with various Chiefs from the area. Aundeck Omni Kaning and Whitefish River Nation were the community hosts of this year’s Little Native Hockey League tournament which ran from March 16to the 19 in Mississauga. In attendance at the ceremony, Aundeck Omni Kaning Chief Patsy Corbiere expressed her condolences to the family and community. She said, “This loss not only affected the family and community and Little NHL community, but all First Nations throughout the province. We were all shocked and saddened by this news.”
In his tearful address, Chico Ralph, Vice President of the Little NHL executive committee expressed his condolences to the family and community. He added there would be a hockey award in Ember’s name.
Donations can be sent to: Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity, P.O. Box 711, North Bay, ON. P1B 8J8 or at www.an7gc.ca through PayPal.