Nelson Bird column

Two summers ago an unthinkable tragedy occurred on the Kahkewistehaw First Nation where a 10-year-old boy killed 5-year-old old Lee Bonneau.  At the time, I remember all the questions that arose when we first heard of the incident; questions like ‘how could this happen?’ and ‘who is ultimately responsible?’ It was a heart wrenching story to follow and one that continues to make news headlines.

Most recently, an inquest was held in Regina and it focused on all the circumstances surrounding the death of Bonneau. Several witnesses and professionals took the stand and recalled their account of the incident. Several journalists sat through the entire proceedings sending information back to their newsrooms via text messages and tweets. I was on the receiving end of those messages for the entire process. It takes a toll on the families involved and it’s not too difficult to see and understand the pain they are experiencing, but it also takes a toll on others who are indirectly involved, people like first responders and journalists, many of whom are parents of young children.

As assignment editor I helped, watched and listened as reporters would relay their stories to the public on a daily basis. Many of the details heard in the courtroom would not become public knowledge nor would the actual emotion felt by so many people. The amount of information made it impossible to relay each detail. Each morning, our newsroom staff would sit and talk about the previous day’s proceedings and we’d make a plan on how we would approach the upcoming day.

Because of the nature of the testimony, I would switch reporters to cover the daily story and at the end of the day those reporters would share with me what they heard. What was said during the inquest took a toll on us because of the horrific nature of what happened, and frustrated us at how systems failed two young boys. I can’t imagine what the jurors felt having to be there all day, every day.

It was sometimes difficult to leave the day’s events at work, and not bring work home with us. We all dealt with it in our own ways. Some found it helped to talk about it with coworkers, which we did freely. For me, the best stress relief, besides talking about it, is a long walk with my dogs. The stress and emotion of the day is always relieved that way.

There are certain incidents in our lives that tear at our hearts. Any time a child dies or is intentionally hurt, it bothers so many people. First Responders are a group of people who face  dealing with tragedies daily and my heart goes out to them also. Whether it is a police officer, an EMS worker or maybe a fire fighter, they have a job that puts them in the front line.

A recent tragedy in Tisdale made national news when a mother and three small children were killed. As I watched, and helped create the news coverage that day, I noticed several RCMP officers and other people walking in and out of the house where the family perished. I felt for them in a deep way. So often they are the ones whose job it is to deal first hand with the tragedy.  Whether it’s a car accident, or a house fire, or a murder, they are the ones who see it all. It’s also somebody’s job to inform families of terrible news.

When I was a reporter, I covered accident scenes and murders, and those stories affected me. How could they not? Now as I go about doing my job of helping to relay the news to public, I make a conscious effort to think of those who are affected by the tragedy because it is part of their job to deal with it, and they always stay in my thoughts and prayers.

Nelson Bird is a member of the Peepeekisis First Nation.
The views shared here are those of Nelson Bird and not those of CTV News.

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