Sunday, September 11, 2022

A Community of Healing

It has been just a week since the James Smith Cree Nation was shattered. 
After the death of Myles Sanderson and his brother Damien, it seems like the world has moved on to other news stories. 
But of course the story will not really be over so quickly. This is the meaning of community: From Wednesday - And today - In Edmonton today - And in Hamilton today - Reporter Zac Vescera wrote in Saturday's Star Phoenix:
... a killer’s capture does not mean closure. The search is ended, but the Burns family and others are beginning the wakes, the funerals, the sweat lodges and the hard work of grieving.
There was a mother of two, a veteran, and Herbert Burn’s sister Gloria Burns, an addictions counsellor who spent her life lifting others up.
Her brothers say they are following Gloria’s example by urging forgiveness for the accused perpetrators and their families, hoping an unthinkable tragedy can knit their community together instead of pushing it apart.
“How are we going to face each other, living on a piece of land that is six miles by 12 miles square?” said Ivor Burns, a community elder and one of Gloria’s brothers. “How are we going to do that unless we heal? And in order to heal, we have to forgive the people.”
...Myles Sanderson’s death means the community may never know exactly why he did what he did. But many on the First Nation are focused on the bigger picture.
Chief Wally Burns called for more access to substance use treatment on the reserve as well as local control over police. Others have proposed reforms to the justice system entirely.
“The problem is not those two boys,” Ivor Burns said.
Even in tragedy, the Burns family has gone out of its way to welcome journalists. On Thursday, Ivor Burns refused to let this reporter leave his house without a cup of coffee and some cookies. Darryl Burns has been fielding phone calls from reporters across the country, which he admits is not easy.
“After the press conference, there were so many of the reporters who wanted to speak with me. It was hard for me to sort out my own feelings,” he said. “It was hard for me to look after my partner and do the things I needed to do.”
Now, he says, it is time to mourn. Gloria’s body will soon be returned to their home and finally laid to rest. Then, he hopes the healing can start.
“We’re not going to be remembered as a community of tragedy,” Darryl Burns said. “We’re going to be remembered as a community of healing and forgiveness, and strength and courage.”

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