The Yellow Quill tragedy
FTLComm - Tisdale - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How can anyone who heard the story of two children being cared for by their drunken father on an arctic winter night taken out into the cold unclothed to be frozen to death, not be upset by the situation. Being a parent is a grave responsibility and every member of a community must accept the responsibility of caring for its parents as well as its children.

The pitiful response by the leadership of the Saskatchewan Federation of Indians and the leadership of the Yellow Quill First Nation needs to be questioned. There was an immediate call for the establishment of an alcohol and drug treatment facility to go on the reserve to provide support for people in dire need of treatment with the assumption being that the father of these two tiny children was one such person in need.

I spend a good portion of my career as a principal and counsellor working in First Nations communities and no matter how frequent or saddening the loss of life in one of these communities was it always struck me with such impact the big deal made of the death which would be followed by a wake and tragic days of mourning. Yet while it was clear to many that without immediate action prior to the person's death it was inevitable the tragedy took place. A drowning, a suicide a death by substance abuse or by violence, these things are so common on these communities that they are almost ignored. But the ultimate price, death becomes a time of incredible sadness.

It seemed to me then and certainly does now that emphasising life is a much more important thing than getting up set over death, especially when the conditions that are direct causes of the death are known and little or nothing is being done to prevent these tragedies.

A significant porportion of Saskatchewan's population are First Nations people and yet the responsibility for bettering the lives of the First Nations people seems to be always something the rest of society is suppose to have taken care of while the First Nations people sob and plan funerals. It is highly unlikely that the death of those two children on the Yellow Quill was a surprise to anyone there. Why was nothing done, was no intervention taken to protect them and the community from such a terrible event?

Timothy W. Shire

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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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