Feb 18, 2011

Our children aren't ready to know Tyeshia Jones

Tonight I will join hundreds of fellow community members in honouring Tyeshia Jones. But my safe, sleeping children won't know about it.

I will not use the tragic death of this young woman to educate my children about the senseless dangers of the world. The sharpness of our community's pain will not pierce the bubble of their innocence.

At 7 and 9, they do not need to know the dark side. They need to know that they are safe to grow into themselves and the world. They need the strength of collective laughter and full-lung family renditions of Annie, not the constricted breath of sobbing and fear.

One of G's classmates learned of Tyeshia's murder and has been in bed with a fever since then - the only terror response her little soul could muster. She's too emotionally and intellectually immature to be able to understand such an act; not that any of us understand it, but we can at least hold it and process it in a broader perspective.

Yes we teach our children not to help strangers find their lost puppies. But the intensity and proximity of a young woman's body found in the forest within miles of our house is too real, too strong at this age. There will come a time when they do have to learn about abduction and peak oil and the DR Congo and the Tea Party and all the real world things that scare or motivate me; when that time comes, they will have been given the chance to develop the emotional and intellectual capacity to deal with it. And by then they will have a deep faith in the goodness and community that can overcome the challenges.

We've asked our community not to speak of this to or in front of our children. Not even her name, which has been on the school playground enough that their antennae are up. This is not to dishonour Tyeshia, but to live up to our collective job to protect our children. The same tears that will cleanse and heal us as adults could wash away the layers of innocence that protect our children.

We adults can and must speak her name amongst ourselves, rally together to share our strength. We must speak her name and keep her memory alive. I hope we can join together tonight at the candlelight vigil, or light your own candle and join us in your own way.

Tonight we adults will find strength and hope together in the candlelight. And our sleeping children will grow up in the warm glow of those candles without ever having to know it in their heads, just feeling deep in their souls that they are held by a community of love.


  1. Wow Rick so well said. Yes when this happens fear comes out so much. I love that you focued on faith. This is an amazing and beautiful world. Thank you for your words! <3

  2. The thing that lingers in me after reading this are the children in our community who have no choice but to know. Who everyday live the impact of residential schools, Canadian racism and the mainstream violent cultural view of Aboriginal women. So tonight let's also walk for the children who know.

  3. I think I would rather my children heard from me what was going on rather than the children on the playground. Playground rumors are often scarier than any horrifying reality.

    But, 35 years latter, I am still upset that my mother didn't let me go to Kathy's funeral.