MAGNETAWAN – The tragedy that followed this year’s li’l NHL with the death of 13-year-old Ember Wynne of Red Rock First Nation and members of her family brought teammates, community officials, friends and first responders to an impromptu memorial service and ceremony held Sunday. More than 100 people gathered at a service station along Highway 69, at Megnetawan First Nation, near Perry Sound where the collision took place, last Wednesday evening.
The horrific crash that took the lives of the young hockey player, her Grandfather, three month old sister, and seriously injured her mother and brother, sent shock waves through the small community of Red Rock First Nation as well as officials of the li’l NHL and all First Nations communities that sent teams to the tournament.
Ember’s mother underwent 14-hours of emergency surgery Saturday and her brother also received treatment for serious injuries but he is said to be stable and recovering well. The mother is still in serious condition.
A makeshift memorial was set up at the service station where the van carrying the victims was leaving when struck by a transport truck.
Renee Cattrysse, daughter of the Two Row Times designer Dave LaForce, attended the memorial along with her daughter Ashley who played on the same team as Ember, and brought blue, white and pink flowers on behalf of the Two Row Times.
“The whole team was there except for one member,” said Renee. “Many of the girls brought their medals from the li’l NHL to lay at the memorial and the team brought Ember’s hockey stick which they had decorated with feathers.”
The Chief of Magnetawan led a prayer for the family and those recovering in hospital and invited those in attendance to join the people of Magetawan in a memorial feast following the roadside ceremony.
“He said he was glad to hear laughter as well as tears at the ceremony,” said Renee Cattrysse. “The girls signed Ember’s #19 jersey and had a team photo taken at the memorial to be sent to the Red Rock First Nation to be used in their own memorial.”
People brought dreamcatchers, hockey sticks and pucks, teddy bears, and other items, which were set around the stone pile memorial built earlier at the site.
One by one Ember’s teammates thanked the first responders who attended the horrific scene and tried to save the lives of Ember and her family.
There were preliminary talks about a reunion game to be organized sometime next year where the team would play an exhibition game, all wearing Ember’s #19.
“It really helped to have everyone together,” said teammate Ashley Cattrysse. “We were all thankful for the time we had with Ember. She was a good player and big part of this team.”
The Chiefs of Ontario were quick to issue a media release offering condolences to the communities and families impacted by the tragedy.
“I am saddened by this tragic news and pray for the families who have lost their loved ones,” said Ontario Regional Chief Beardy. “Our hearts and prayers go out to families and everyone travelling home from the Little NHL hockey tournament.”
Donations to help Ember Wynne’s family can be sent to: Anishinabek Nation 7th Generation Charity, P.O. Box 711, North Bay, ON P1B 8J8
Atikameksheng Anishnawbek have set up a memorial at the Magnetawan Gas Station for anyone travelling home – you can offer your tobacco and say prayers.