What words can be written when a tragedy strikes, with one young teenage girl ultimately losing her life?
There are none.
Many don’t want to share or talk about what happened because they simply can’t believe it, and won’t accept it.
Everyone has heard by now that a motor vehicle crash took the life of a local teenager, while her two friends were severely injured.
As a newspaper that writes about tragedy quite often – but also all of the good things that happen here in our community – we always dread to write about these types of horrific pieces of news.
We always try to stay respectful, keep our distance, and report as much of what happened that not only makes sense for us as journalists, but keeps in mind all of the families and people affected, and the community at large.
No one wants to deal with the reality that their child has died, and we feel the same about having to sit down and type out what happened, and in this format, what lessons we take from it all, even if it is too early to really digest.
But we must write about it in a way others refuse to or can’t – after all, it is our job. We write about things certain people would rather we didn’t, and we have to write about this terrible time, when the community is suffering so much and needs healing.
We don’t want to get into details or speculate in this case, but we will talk about what people can do when things like this sadly happen.
It’s so important to show love during this time, to reach out to the family, to support and to hold and just be there for them.
No one can bring her back, 18-year-old Tsótewe Stacey, and she will not be forgotten.
We think about what a bright life she had ahead of her and how devastating it is to think of what could have been.
It demonstrates so clearly how life is a precious thing that can be taken at any time, and it stands as a reminder to live our lives in the way our ancestors tried and wanted us to; with Ka’nikonhrí:io – a good mind towards all things on Mother Earth.
It’s also a reminder of how dangerous it is out there on the roads. We have already lost so many people to car accidents and we know, so very sadly and true, that this will probably not be the last one.
Because statistics say when x amount of vehicles are on the road, with each in varying states of mind, well the numbers are against you.
It only takes one accident like this for people to say “close all the bars” as they call on the Peacekeepers to stand guard in ways they are simply not equipped or funded to; for that anger, that frustration, that fear to take over.
How many lives have been lost in such a small community as Kahnawake in the past 20 years? Sit down and start naming them and you will be shocked how so many have passed far too soon.
We send our kids out there in hopes they come back to us, but sometimes they don’t. And it takes everything we have not to throw in the towel and give in when that happens.
It also reminds us of the times when we are not in crisis, and how we so easily attack each other, especially on social media. It’s during these moments of sorrow we come together as one and it’s during those moments of stupidity and anger on Facebook that we forget how to treat each other.
Channeling the grief we feel now and keeping it with us all the time as a lesson of how to be kind to each other and listen instead of yelling, is one way to take such a horrific tragedy and at least try to make it into something moving forward, as we climb out of our grief stage, eventually.
Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.