Friday, June 17, 2011

Senseless Acts of Violence

Disclaimer: Neither my employer nor my occupation has anything to do with this post. This posting is strictly my own thoughts and feelings. Like most disclaimers if you do not want to hear my thoughts, you can click the back button at anytime. Also the alleged murderer in this blog is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

As I posted in my last blog posting, a 19 year old former student of mine named Samantha was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend.

I think it is important for people who knew Samantha, to see that she was a victim of domestic violence. As I said yesterday, this girl was a quiet, caring girl, who, like all teenage girls was just wanting to be loved and cared for.

This "man" took advantage of her sweet, innocent demeanor. He betrayed her trust, her love and her life. 

Details are sketchy and pure speculation runs rampant I have heard some possible details, but due to the graphic nature of the details I have heard, I will not repeat them here. The only details we need are that a beautiful, innocent girl was killed in cold blood.

Some people may be angry at me for putting out the names. I say it is important to attach names to these crimes and even more important that the victims of these heinous acts are brought to the forefront.

I remember teaching Sammie and her twin sister. Sammie was the quiet, shy one. Her sister was the socialite of the two.

Sammie was sweet, innocent and caring. She would volunteer to help with anything. She was a genuine angel.
She was upgrading some courses at the local high school. No doubt she would go on to do great things. I do not know what her end goal was, I just hope it would have been in the service industry helping others. That is what Sammie did best.

Sadly it seems that her trusting nature would hurt her in the end. 

More often then not, when a person dies from domestic violence, there is a prior history. I hope that every person in an abusive relationship can see how it can end in a horrifying way. 

I want to take this moment to reach out to my current and former students. I want to tell you that no matter how old you are, no matter how long it has been since I taught you, if you are EVER EVER in this situation, if you are EVER EVER thinking of hurting yourself, come to me. I am at the school I will do everything in my power to help you through whatever you are going through. I have seen too many students take their own lives and now I have lived to see a student killed by domestic violence. You are not alone. There are people who can and will help you.

Men and women need to know that love shouldn't hurt. 

In Cold Lake you can contact the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre, if you are in a different city or town, seek a shelter or call your local police or RCMP. 

If you know of someone in an abusive relationship, DO NOT turn a blind eye. Help them.

When funeral arrangements are made available for Sammie, I will post them here.

June 17, 2011 an unofficial candlelight gathering will occur at the Brentwood Estates at 9pm.

The Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre motto is "Making a difference, 1 violence-free night at a time"
I just wish we could have helped this young lady avoid 1 violence filled night.

Youth & Dating Abuse
(taken from the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre Webpage)
Being a young person today isn't easy. There is home, school and peer pressures. For some young people, relationships with their parents can be annoying or embarrassing at times, but on the whole the relationship is 'normal'. They feel safe and secure at home, and they know their parents will protect them. But for young people who are abused, family life is much different.
If you're being abused or are exposed to family violence, the most important thing to know is you are not alone. You don't deserve to be abused. Family violence is a serious issue; and some forms of abuse can even be criminal. There is help for you and for anyone else who you feel may be abused. There are also things you can do to protect yourself and others who are affected by family violence.
Dating Abuse
Dating can be fun and exciting, but sometimes your relationship can turn into something you aren't comfortable with. Abuse can happen between people who are dating.
Dating abuse can include:
  • Name-calling, hurtful words and other forms of verbal and emotional abuse;
  • Hitting, punching, kicking and other forms of physical abuse;
  • Telling who you can spend time with or how much time you can spend with other people;
  • Controlling behaviours - deciding what you wear, how you can styler your hair, etc.;
  • Threatening to hurt you, destroying your things, and other intimidation tactics; or
  • Touching you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, not listening when you say 'no' or other forms of sexual abuse.
If you are being abused, help is available. Talk to a family member, close friend, teacher or counsellor you trust. You can also learn more about dating abuse.
Dating Safety Tips
  • Consider going on a date with another couple the first few times you go out with someone. This is a good idea until you get to know the person better.
  • Think of different ways to be safe if you find yourself in a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation. Make a list of the people you trust who you could talk to if your partner abuses you; friends you can ask to help you stay safe; people you could call for a ride home if you are stranded; places you could go to quickly to escape an abusive person.
  • Before you leave on a date, make sure you know the plans for the date. Tell a friend or family member where you will be, what time they can expect you to be home and how they can reach you (ie: cell phone).
  • Let your date know that you are expected to call or tell someone when you get home.
  • If you leave a party with someone you do not know well, make sure you tell a friend you trust about your plans and the name of the person you are with. Ask a friend to call and make sure you arrive home safely.
  • If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your judgement and reaction time become impaired.

If we can save one person's life, it is worth it.

As of June 17, 2011 - Her boyfriend, Xavier Joseph Gagnon has been listed as a suspect. He is charged with 1st degree murder. Cold Lake Sun Article

RIP Sammie.


The purple ribbon is a symbol of Domestic Violence Awareness

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When disgusting things happen to sweet people.

Let me first off say that I am not writing this as a teacher. I am writing this as a man. I am writing this as a human being. I am writing this as a father of a daughter.

On June 15th a 19 year old former student of mine was murdered. Now as of this very moment, the name has not been officially released, but Cold Lake is not a big city and bad news travels very fast.

This young girl was a twin sister. I often referred to her as "the quiet one." She was sweet, she was kind, she was a generous soul.

It appears that she shared her heart, soul and love with a "man"(I use that term loosely) and he took advantage of it. Now one can only speculate, but it is very possible that an argument took place resulting in the murder of this young girl.

They say the inner circle of hell is reserved for people like this "man" and although he is innocent until proven guilty, if he did this disgustingly heinous crime, I hope there is a nice warm seat reserved for him.

As a father, I hope that my daughter never meets a man like this. My advice to all women in these domestic violence situations is to leave. Do not tell the man you are leaving. Just pack up your things, your family and go away. I know it is very easy to say that and I know that I make it sound oh so easy.

I just hope that if one person, male or female can do that, it may just save their lives.

Go to the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre, a shelter in your hometown,  or Contact your local Police or RCMP if you are in a situation of abuse or know someone in an abusive relationship.

It could just save the life of someone you love.

Rest peacefully Samantha you're not in pain anymore.

Mr. B

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Armchair Everything

Have you ever noticed that the internet has bred a lot of "armchairs"? I mean everywhere I look I see the armchair quarterback, the armchair hockey coach, etc. Lately, I have seen a lot of different armchairs. The armchair physician, lawyer, and teacher.

It seems that people on the internet think that by looking up an article here or there, or perhaps rallying a ravenous horde of facebook friends, suddenly makes you an expert. In the last week, I have seen no less than 5 people on my Facebook claiming to know better than the doctors treating them or their friends and family. Just because you went to a hospital once in your life, or hell you watched a season of ER or House, does not make you an expert in the field of medicine. Diagnosis and treatment does not take 45 minutes to do. There is protocol and procedure that has to be followed and the old adage "the customer is always right," is a fallacy. I never walk into a hospital room as a patient and think "I know more than these guys in here." So why do some people get that attitude? Just relax and wait for the diagnosis, if you were in mortal danger, I am sure you would be told.
     Realize that doctors do not know everything. They make mistakes, they misdiagnose, heck sometimes they never know what was wrong. I stayed in the hospital when I was a teacher in Manyberries, Ab. What I suspected I had was an issue stemming from bad water in North Battleford a few years back. However, after a week in the hospital the doctors never came up with a diagnosis of what I had. They had two possibles, but were never able to nail it down. I never freaked out or got mad and said mean nasty things about the doctor, I knew that they had done the best they could, and I was at least healthy.

So the next time you think you can do a better job than the professional in front of you, remember you had a chance to get a degree in that field.

But heck that's just the world as I see it.