Tag Archives: Cooper Nemeth

Cooper Nemeth’s Dad Addresses ‘Heartbreaking’ Letter From Winnipeg Teen

Brent Nemeth talks about the emotions he felt after reading Brianna Jonnie's letter

Brent Nemeth talks about the emotions he felt after reading Brianna Jonnie’s letter

CBC News, Posted: Mar 07, 2016

‘Shout from the rooftops and ends of the earth,’ letter in Cooper’s voice says

The dad of slain Winnipeg teen Cooper Nemeth says a heartbreaking and what he calls damaging letter from teen Brianna Jonnie prompted him to write a response — from himself and from Cooper.

“I was saddened when I first read it. It was heartbreaking to read,” said Brent Nemeth, Cooper Nemeth’s father.

“I was also saddened for the police department. It hurt my feelings. It was very emotional to read that so soon after Cooper’s disappearance and then being found that someone would think so unworthy of themselves over race.”

Jonnie, a 14-year-old indigenous girl, addressed her letter to police Chief Devon Clunis, a number of government officials and members of local media. In it, she says there is a discrepancy in how cases of missing indigenous girls are treated in comparison to others, such as Cooper or Thelma Krull.

Brent Nemeth said he wrote the response because he’s sad for Jonnie but is also concerned “a letter such as this takes us five steps back” in bridging relations with the First Nations community.

He lauded the Bear Clan patrol for its search efforts when Cooper was missing, saying the primarily indigenous group never stopped “for one second to think of race or colour or gender.

“They saw a need and felt the anguish and moved right in to do whatever they could to help as human beings,” he said in a part of the letter written in his own voice.

The Nemeth family later held a dinner to honour the Bear Clan and honour the bond with the First Nations community.

Jonnie’s letter, instead, encourages another generation to believe in a racist way of thinking, Nemeth said.

“It breaks my heart to believe that any child believes I see them as anything more or less than a child who deserves love every moment of their entire lives and who needs to be found when they are lost,” he wrote.

Jonnie describes herself as an honour roll student, volunteer, coach and dancer who is being raised by a loving mother. Though she is not involved in drugs, alcohol, prostitution or other illegal activity, nor a runaway, she says she is more likely to go missing than her peers simply because she is indigenous.

If that were to ever happen, Jonnie urges Clunis and the media to humanize her, not treat her “like another one of them ran away.”

"And if I do go missing and my body is found, please tell my mom you are sorry. Tell her I asked to be buried in my red dress, for I will have become just another native statistic," Brianna Jonnie, 14, wrote in a letter to Winnipeg Police Service Chief Devon Clunis. (CBC)

“And if I do go missing and my body is found, please tell my mom you are sorry. Tell her I asked to be buried in my red dress, for I will have become just another native statistic,” Brianna Jonnie, 14, wrote in a letter to Winnipeg Police Service Chief Devon Clunis. (CBC)

“The colour of one’s skin, their socio-economic status, or whom their legal guardian is should not determine the level of assistance they receive in finding them if they are missing, and yet, it does,” she wrote, adding examples of indigenous girls who went missing and the gap between when they disappeared and when the police issued a public notice.

In comparison, Cooper had his image in the paper the next day and Krull was in online reports less than 24 hours after her disappearance, Jonnie said.

Making gains

James Favel, an organizer with the Bear Clan Patrol, said he is driven to work toward “a new normal” in terms of community responses to missing persons.

“We have made some real gains and I don’t want to see it be lost,” Favel said, adding “you can’t take away from [Jonnie’s] reality.

“I wouldn’t malign her for how she feels. I know that there’s many women in my community that have the same feeling.”

Still, while Favel acknowledges Jonnie’s concerns are valid, he added that negativity surrounding the issue isn’t productive either.

“Delaine Copenace went missing last Friday. We’ve been searching; the media has been all over it. I think coverage has been equal in that respect.”

Brent Nemeth said the family was actively doing everything they could to help find Cooper.

“We used the media to our advantage, we used social media to our advantage,” he said.

“We didn’t sit at home and just file a missing police report. I was constantly on the police, updating every 15 minutes as soon as I made the report. Cooper’s friends texting, tweeting; my sister coming in and putting her keys down on the table and four coffees and saying, ‘We’re going to find him.'”

He said he is saddened that Jonnie believes her worth is based on gender and race, but felt she was off the mark when it comes to who spearheads the searching.

Cooper Nemeth went missing after leaving a house party in East Kildonan on Feb. 14. His body was found Feb. 20 behind a house in the same neighbourhood. (Supplied)

Cooper Nemeth went missing after leaving a house party in East Kildonan on Feb. 14. His body was found Feb. 20 behind a house in the same neighbourhood. (Supplied)

They are “fuelled by families and communities and police can only do the job they are enlisted to do. And it is the same for everyone,” he said, noting Cooper’s family, friends and the community overall “found the leads … the tips … and the feet on the street to rattle the earth.

“It wasn’t 1,500 police officers out there.”

Instead of writing to the police, government and media, Jonnie should have addressed her letter to her parents, Nemeth said.

The following is from Nemeth’s letter, written in the voice of Cooper:

“If I go missing … please please please recognize quickly that this is something completely out of the norm for me and don’t ever let me become another statistic. Handle me missing with the same care and love that you handle me with every single day of my life. Know that the times that I am acting out as a 17-year-old boy and we are struggling through some moments in our house have nothing to do with where I am now.

“Don’t wait for the police to look for me. They will do what they can and what they are allotted to do for every single missing person case there is. They will issue a statement and follow leads but it is up to you Mom and Dad to help find those leads for them and rally every single person you can to help find me. The police can’t do that for us … or anyone else.

“Shout from the rooftops and ends of the earth and call out to everyone you know to join you. Please Mom and Dad … even when you hear things that will make you think I have gone farther off the path you have laid out for me … don’t give up.

“I am just being a 17-year-old kid … trying things that most of us try … but in the big scheme of things, this moment doesn’t define who I am and who you have taught me to be. I may have hid a few things from you because that’s what we do as teenagers.… We are chameleons to our parents.

“Don’t let anything stop you Mom and Dad. When it comes down to it … only you and your strength and your love and your belief in me can bring me home.”

Brent Nemeth’s letter, in the voice of his late 17-year-old son Cooper Nemeth

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/cooper-nemeth-brianna-jonnie-letter-1.3478948

Cooper Nemeth’s Family Holds Dinner For Bear Clan

Members of the Nemeth family stand with members of the Bear Clan, a North End street patrol that helped search for Cooper Nemeth. The 17-year-old was missing for about a week before his body was found in a trash bin on Feb. 20. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

Members of the Nemeth family stand with members of the Bear Clan, a North End street patrol that helped search for Cooper Nemeth. The 17-year-old was missing for about a week before his body was found in a trash bin on Feb. 20. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

CBC News, Posted: Feb 26, 2016

Volunteer street patrol group searched day and night for teen, held ceremony once he was found

Cooper Nemeth’s family prepared a feast Friday night to thank the Bear Clan, a patrol group that helped search for the 17 year old, then held a smudging ceremony in his honour after his body was found last week.

The Bear Clan showed up at the Gateway Recreation Centre last week without even being asked, Nemeth’s family said.

“We did what we did because it was the right thing to do for us here, so we can sleep at night,” Bear Clan member James Favel said.

“It had a real benefit for their family as well and our community and our city at large.”

Like hundreds of other volunteers, the group spent countless hours searching for the teen.

“We’re non-indigenous. They’re indigenous. It’s pretty rare that those communities from both sides reach out to each other,” said Laresa Sayles, Nemeth’s aunt.

Bear Clan

Members of the Bear Clan held a smudge and drum ceremony for Cooper Nemeth, his family and the community Monday night (Bear Clan/Facebook)

“These people came with open and loving arms to us and wanted to help, and they went to the scariest and toughest places in the city and searched for Cooper. To me, that shows you they are true and genuine salt of the earth.”

Bear Clan co-founder Larry Morrissette echoed Sayles words, lauding community members who came together in search of Nemeth.

“I grew up around here. It’s a really good thing to see these barriers coming down and people starting to accept one another,” Morrissette said. “I think what’s gone on has been really tragic but really positive at the same time.”

Members of Nemeth’s family spent the day cooking turkey, lasagna, wings, asparagus and apple crisp. They also used a lot of the donated food they received during Nemeth’s search for the big meal.

The Nemeth family brought the dinner to the the Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre, where they ate with members of the Bear Clan.

“We are just wanting to give back to them. I know food is just such a small thing but for us, it brings a lot of comfort,” said Sayles. “It brings people together.”

Sayles added it’s a way to focus on the positive, and keep momentum going on bridging Winnipeg’s communities.

“Everything they’ve said to us, even during the smudge and drum ceremony, was so sincere and loving. Brent and Gaylene, Cooper’s parents, finally slept after the drum ceremony and smudge. There was so much peace.”

James Favel

James Favel attends a smudging ceremony for slain teen Cooper Nemeth. (CBC)

Sayles said she’s also grateful to Winnipeg police and the community for their help in the search. But the Bear Clan isn’t paid for what they do, she said, and they didn’t even know Nemeth or his family before coming out to help.

“The Bear Clan doesn’t get any funding, and it’s just a small token of saying thank you to them. It’s so minimal compared to what we want to do to help them, but it’s a start,” she said.

“These are the kind of people and this is the kind of organization that this city really needs right now.”

Sayles said it will be a long road to recovery for her and her family, but she takes comfort in the fact that some good has come from Nemeth’s death.

“We hope others in Winnipeg will reach out to them as well, because this is the start of something big and something wonderful. And it’s going to bring a lot of change to this city and the safety of our children, our indigenous women, anyone that’s gone missing.”

About 40 Bear Clan members went out on their normal Friday rounds through the North End following the dinner.

Meet Me at the Bell Tower honoured the Bear Clan after the dinner. Organizers with the North End anti-violence weekly meetup presented Favel with a wooden box with an eagle on it for the work his group does to prevent violence.

Nemeth’s family held a wreath for Cooper, smudged with the group and rang the bell at the corner of Selkirk Avenue and Powers Street after the short service.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/cooper-nemeth-s-family-holds-dinner-for-bear-clan-1.3465985

Bear Clan, North End Street Patrol, Earns Kudos After Cooper Nemeth Search, Smudge

After helping in the search for missing 17-year-old Cooper Nemeth, whose body was found on the weekend, the Bear Clan's Facebook page has had more than 160,000 views, the group's James Favel says. (Bear Clan Facebook page )

After helping in the search for missing 17-year-old Cooper Nemeth, whose body was found on the weekend, the Bear Clan’s Facebook page has had more than 160,000 views, the group’s James Favel says. (Bear Clan Facebook page )

CBC News, Feb 24, 2016

A North End community group is gaining wide support online for its efforts to help find 17-year-old Cooper Nemeth, whose body was found last weekend. A 22-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder.

The street patrol group called the Bear Clan spent countless hours searching for Nemeth and in the end, honoured him in a smudge ceremony.

The group’s search for the teen, who had been missing for a week, is now sparking seeds of hope in both the indigenous and non-indigenous community.

People on the group’s Facebook page are saying the patrol’s actions have done more to bridge the divide between the two communities than forums, summits or reports.

Jame Favel says getting involved in the search for Cooper Nemeth was the right thing to do. A child is a child, he says, we are all connected. (supplied by Favel)

Jame Favel says getting involved in the search for Cooper Nemeth was the right thing to do. A child is a child, he says, we are all connected. (supplied by Favel)

Positive comments pour in

Since the weekend, views of the Bear Clan’s Facebook page have exploded from just under 20,000 to over 160,000.

Here is a sample of some of the comments:

Annalee Deighton: “As a long time citizen of Winnipeg it has done my heart and soul so much good to see a group of people such as yourselves do so much for our community and especially the Nemeth family. Your unconditional love and compassion for them has set a standard for others to follow. Please keep doing what you’re doing so that we all have a lovely example to follow. Peace to you all…Namaste.”

Cheryl James: “Thank you Larry Morrissette and James Favel for taking the first step in such a tangible way to heal the rift between indigenous and non-indigenous communities in Manitoba. You have given us a standard to hold ourselves to. Now it’s up to us, to DO it, when it is our turn to walk the walk and talk the talk.”

Kristin MacLean: “You guys are awesome. Thank you for taking a step forward that you did not have to ….I hope this changes some thinking in the city and that we ALL stand up for anyone who is in trouble, like you did. Every community needs a Bear Clan!!”

Caroline Kiesel Whitelaw: “Thank you for all you’ve done for Cooper’s family, friends, and the community, Bear Clan! You’re pure class.”

James Favel is the coordinator of Bear Clan. He says he’s touched  by the outpouring of support.

“To get this kind of recognition is overwhelming. It is inspiring and empowering. We just want to keep doing what we are doing. It was the right thing to do,” said Favel.

Bear Clan joins the search

When a tip came in Cooper had been seen near Siloam Mission on Higgins Street, Favel mobilized his volunteers. They looked under bridges, backyards, dumpsters and backlanes up to Burrows Avenue. He stayed in regular contact with the Nemeth family letting them know where his volunteers had searched.

“If there was a possibility the boy was in our community, it was my responsibility to comb the area and to see that he was found,” said Favel. “A child is a child. It doesn’t matter where he is from. We are all connected.”

Favel was coming off a night shift on the weekend when he heard Nemeth’s body had been found. He was devastated. He spoke with the family and asked to be involved in the vigil. He never intended it to be as big as it was. In the end, more than 1,000 people showed up at a smudge ceremony organized by Favel. This at a time when many people in the aboriginal community continue their search for loved ones who have been murdered or gone missing, as the federal government prepares to hold an inquiry into the issue.

“That is a great reward for us to know the efforts that we have been putting out there trying to bring light [to] our cause. And to have that result, that’s amazing,” said Favel.

Public perception of the organization has shifted, Favel added. Last week, it was “the Bear Clan in the city’s North End in a dark little corner.” Favel says now his group is being referred to as “Winnipeg’s Bear Clan.”

“I feel we have arrived. We have been at this, walking the streets for 18 months now. This is a confirmation that our model is solid and we are being recognized as a force for good,” he said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/bear-clan-north-end-street-patrol-earns-kudos-after-cooper-nemeth-search-smudge-1.3462325?__vfz=tc%3D1lbsiUC9rjp

Hundreds Attend Indigenous Smudging Ceremony For Cooper Nemeth

IMG_1178

Indigenous drum circle at a smudging ceremony for Cooper Nemeth on Monday night. (Photo: Red Power Media)

By Red Power Media, Staff

Winnipeg— An estimated 1,000 people gathered at an Indigenous smudging ceremony for Cooper Nemeth on Monday night.

The seventeen-year-old’s body was found in North Kildonan almost a week after he disappeared from a party in the same area.

The Winnipeg Police Service said he was murdered.

Nicholas Bell-Wright, 22, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder on Sunday.

Cooper Nemeth

Friends and teammates gather to honor of Cooper Nemeth on Monday night. (Photo Red Power Media)

The tragedy of Cooper’s death brought family, friends, teammates and members of the indigenous community together to remember the young hockey player at Gateway Recreation Centre.

According to CBC News, the event was organized by James Favel and indigenous elder and educator, Larry Morrissette, from the Bear Clan Patrol, a neighbourhood watch group that monitors North End streets.

“The smudge … is a way of cleaning yourself and sending your own thoughts and prayers and your belief towards Cooper,” said Morrissette.

“We just did a smudge ceremony to help send young Cooper’s soul, spirit home,” Favel said, adding he wasn’t surprised to see so many people attend the ceremony.

When Cooper went missing last week, Bear Clan helped look for him.

James Favel and indigenous elder and educator, Larry Morrissette, from the Bear Clan. (Photo Red Power Media)

James Favel and Larry Morrissette, from the Bear Clan Patrol. (Photo Red Power Media)

Cooper’s mother, father and young sister attended the event. His father, Brent Nemeth, thanked the community for their support.

“In Cooper’s last days, he united the city, province, and humanity in all of us,” said Nemeth.

Cooper’s aunt Laresa Sayles said the community support her family has received restored her faith in Winnipeg.

“I’m hoping that people remember why we live here, and that we are probably the strongest community in the world,” said Sayles.

Both Sayles and Nemeth said Cooper would have loved the ceremony.

The family of Cooper also released a statement to media following the smudging ceremony in honor of their son.

Public Statement:

“In Cooper’s last days he united a city, a province, and the humanity in all. He became not only our son, brother, nephew, grandson and great grandson, but yours as well. Regardless of status, race, or upbringing all of you came out to find our boy. We cried, hoped and prayed as one, as it should be. Thank you.”

Our entire family is in awe of the love you all showed for our boy. He has now become Winnipeg’s boy. Thousands of you gave your time, your effort, your resources and all you had to bring Cooper home.

Now you are all supporting us again with your outpouring of condolences, well wishes, and offers of help in our time of sorrow. Thank you.

[Read Full Statement Here]