By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Drake Bear loved Justin Bieber, riding his bicycle and visiting his aunts.
He had nicknames: Drako, Beebeach and Baby Drake.
Drake was his mother’s baby.
“He was one of the smallest from our clan,” said his cousin Charity Bear.
The boy lived in Sandy Bay, Sask., a community of about 1,500 at the end of provincial Hwy 135, about 650 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
On Friday his family was 440 km away from home in Prince Albert, Sask., to be near his body.
Drake,9, was found dead Wednesday, hanging inside a home, family said. The moments that led to his death remain unclear, but initial reports from various community members and family indicated it was suicide.
A 12-year-old brother tried to revive him. People wept in the clinic that night.
“There were lots of little girls crying over him, just like if he was Justin Bieber,” said Bear. “Everybody was crying; they were hurt.”
In an email, another community member described the night at the clinic.
“The time is 4:27 a.m. I just came from our local clinic…the building was filled with children and youth as if it was a youth centre to hang out,” wrote the community member. “My heart is ripping to shreds as I know this tragedy could have been prevented…He was a baby, so handsome….”
Bear said she wept at the news of the death.
“I started crying and broke down in tears because I felt my auntie’s pain,” she said.
The funeral is planned for early next week, said Bear.
The pain, however, is familiar here in this Cree-Metis community along the Churchill River which was born in its current spot during the construction of a hydro dam in the 1930s.
Here death takes the young as routinely as the old.
Bear said she has buried nine of her cousins. All of them committed suicide within the past “six to seven years.”
During a six month span in 2007, five youth committed suicide in the community, the last being a 15-year-old girl.
There are fears Drake’s death may trigger others.
Bear would like to see a rink built in the community, to give the kids something to do.
They play hockey on the frozen lake. Three children have fallen through the ice, said Bear. Two of their bodies have never been recovered.
Today, they are mourning Drake.
“He always called me aunty,” said Bear. “I am not your aunt, I told him, ‘I am your cousin.’ And then he started calling me cousin.”
He was in Grade 3.