‘He always called me aunty’

Drake Bear loved Justin Bieber, riding his bicycle and visiting his aunts.

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.

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Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

2 thoughts on “‘He always called me aunty’

  1. Renolda Head I would also wish to send my very deep sympathies and my thoughts and prayers are with little DRAKE’S family and his brother who found him NO brother should have to find his very young brother like that and it is another failure by our government and even though I am not a Native Canadian I am very saddened by this and I HONESTLY CONSIDER DRAKE AND ALL NATIVE PEOPLE MY FAMILY No matter what race we are we BELONG TO THE SAME RACE THE HUMAN RACE.Little DRAKE is with my MUM now and she will take care of him now please believe me when I say WE ARE ALL FAMILY and You are all my Brothers and Sisters. so lets be ONE in the eyes of THE WORLD.Peace be With Drake and his grief stricken FAMILY my shoulder is here for you and MY DOOR WILL ”NEVER”BE CLOSED TO FAMILY.

  2. Drake’s maternal lineage is scarred by premature death, violence, alcohol abuse, poverty, neglect. At one point, I cared for his mother, was friends with his grandmother, and knew his great-grandmother. I look at his face and see them all. Like Blackstone, Sandy Bay has many skeletons, much grief, and overwhelming poverty. And disposable human beings who feel no love or sense of belonging. WHO is going to step up to the plate and make a difference?

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