Recently re-elected Samson Chief Vernon Saddleback spoke to those gathered about the many lives that have been lost this year, due to disease and violence, and encouraged everyone to be mindful of how they and there neighbours. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Mourning community holds vigil

Samson Cree Nation comes together for comfort, console each other

The hope was it would bring the community together and help heal each other.

That was the purpose of the candlelight vigil Aug. 9 in front of the Samson Cree Nation administration office, organized by the Maskwacis Christian Coalition — a group of seven churches that serve Maskwacis.

More than 50 people came out to listen to the various speakers following the tragic death of a 10-year-old boy on Aug. 5.

READ MORE: RCMP Major Crimes Unit lay Manslaughter charge against youth

Samson Chief Vernon Saddleback spoke about how many people have reached out to him, attempting to make sense of the tragedy.

“It’s a tragedy you can’t fathom. It’s a sombre time, one that is testing the faith of our people,” Saddleback said.

“It is in this time of grief, we need to be strong, need to acknowledge what is going on — that some of our people are struggling, but there are healthy choices to stay connected.”

He explained that at least 44 people have died of various means this year so far, “while our average for many years has been 52 and it sounds like a lot because it is. I don’t want this year to be defined that we lost all these people.”

One of the church leaders to speak was Pastor Mario Swampy of the Louis Bull All Nations Church, who shared his unique perspective since he is also a Samson band councillor.

“Born and raised here, losing many family members and hearing and seeing the trauma around us on a regular basis, I truly believe many of us have some level of stress and trauma,” he said.

“What I have recognized though, is that we have to start looking in the mirror and ask how we can be part of the solution. I think all of us here are motivated to continue to support and offer the help and love to others.”

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Samson Chief Vernon Saddleback talks to the crowd gathered Aug. 9 for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the tragic death of a 10-year-old less than a week earlier. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Individual candles were handed out at the vigil, instead of the normal passing of the candle, in an effort to promote safety in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

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