Thursday morning March 4, 2004 at 8:00AM, I went to look for Khayden in his room at the Montreal Children’s hospital. The attending nurse informed me that he was in the physiotherapy room being attended by the physiotherapist. I went to the room where he was getting his treatment and called out to him. Khayden…

With one of his eyes opened I noticed that he was actually responding! In Cree, I excitedly called out Khayden Joomshoom nee. Attempting to turn towards me his eyes sparkled and I excitedly called out to him again. Suddenly there was a muffled cry and as I lovingly looked at my grandson, a tear began to roll down his cheek. It was there and then that three weeks of pent up emotions began to pour out. It was there that the tears of joy began to flow from my eyes. The physiotherapist, noticing the tears in Khayden’s eyes cried out ‘look Khayden is crying! As I lovingly held Khayden’s hand I bent over and whispered Thank you Lord’ in his ear.

As I begin this message, I want to take this opportunity to thank the whole Cree Nation and our neighbouring friends for their constant love and support for Khayden, his family, his grand parents, his relatives and community.

We believe in the power of prayer and it is through this and your visits from far and wide that Khayden’s journey to recovery has begun.

But where did all this begin?

On Sunday February 8, 2004 the day began with our usual responsibilities coming into play at the store. But unfortunately this day would turn out to be a day would affect the whole Cree Nation.

While at work, we had an urgent call from the emergency child worker who normally took care of our grandson. Her voice clearly indicated that something was wrong with Khayden! Without hesitation, we dropped everything and rushed to the clinic.

Upon arriving at the clinic we were directed to the emergency room where we noticed the doctor and nurse taking emergency measures to sustain and help our grandson.

We were informed that as a result of massive head injuries his condition was critical and that he needed to be rushed to Montreal to get the special medical attention he needed.

We immediately called our daughter Judy, Khayden’s mother, who was babysitting in Sudbury and who at the same time was in the process of registering to go back to school. She immediately got on the bus the same night to Montreal, to be at her child’s side.

That same night transportation arrangements were made for our family to get to Montreal.

At the same time there was another set back in my life. My aunt Nancy passed on. Unfortunately I was unable to attend my Aunt Nancy’s funeral that week due to this crisis. Nancy breastfed me when my mother’s breasts failed. She loved me as her own but she left before I could say Good-bye to her. My mother and I will always have fond memories of her.

The following day Judy got to Montreal before we did and had to sign documents to allow the doctors to take the necessary emergency measures to help our grandson Khayden. The trip to Montreal was full of sadness and anxiety. We all cried for Khayden but we knew his fate was in God’s hands.

When we got to the hospital we had a meeting with the doctor who explained to us what needed to be done to help Khayden. We were informed that Khayden needed emergency surgery and the part of his skull had to be removed to relieve the pressure due to the swelling of his brain. As this was a delicate situation we were informed that he had a fifty-fifty chance of surviving. With tears of sadness we put all our trust in the hands of the doctors who God entrusted to help Khayden while we assisted them through our prayers.

We spent the night at the hospital in anticipation of the outcome of his surgery. The following morning our hearts were broken to see little Khayden with his head all bandaged up and the tubes sticking out of his body and machines all around him. While it has been a very difficult experience for my daughter, my wife and I want to express to her our love and pride for having the strength and courage not only to face this sad and unfortunate situation but in how she showed her deep love for her son at such a crucial time in his life. Judy we love you very much and are proud of how you handled yourself.

The arrival of the Rupert family gave us added inspiration and to share special moments with Khayden. It also allowed us to get the extra rest we needed. One night as I sat with my family at the hospital, words came out of my mouth which took everyone by surprise, You know, we have all been praying and asking the Lord to help and heal Khayden. If we want the Lord to hear our prayers, we have to pray and forgive what happened to Khayden. As tears filled the eyes of my wife and daughter we prayed and forgive and asked the Lord to heal our grandson.

As our prayer filled the room we knew the good Lord was sitting beside us and touched the little boy in the next room.

We continue to shed tears for Khayden but know with each tear there is hope. On February 12, 2004 Khayden went through a scan to determine the extent of his injuries. In explaining the results, the doctor informed us that she would tell us what we had to know and that she would not make any promises or raise expectations. She explained that Khayden had sustained severe brain damage and that the physical and movement abilities would be limited. There was a possibility that he may not come out of his coma for three months. While it hurt to hear this news we knew we had to accept it and maintain our faith.

During the time we spent at the hospital we had many calls from different media groups, for a story. Because of the emotional stress we were all going through we were reluctant to issue any statements related to our grandson’s ordeal or condition.

As a family we felt that it was not the appropriate time to do so.

Our little grand daughter Khayden’s sister had an opportunity to visit her little brother. As we got up to leave Khayden for the day his sister took him by the hand asked him to wake up. ‘She said Khayden wake up we are leaving now’. She wanted to see Khayden’s eyes open as she left.

While he was in a coma my family and I spent many hours sitting at his bedside always expressing to him our love. Very gradually he began to respond to our voices and we knew that through out prayers and the inspiring messages of hope from the communities that it would be just a

matter of time when his eyes would open. Wednesday February 18, 2004 was the day we fully understood how much love and support was out there for Khayden and our family. The Cree Nation’s outpour of support on that day is something that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

Each community had a walk against violence, and I was happy and sad at the same time, knowing this was done for my little grandson. The little yellow ribbon that people wore on their jackets was not only a sign of love for Khayden but also a very strong message about the importance of loving your children. Through this message we believe that Khayden has not only touched many lives, but also has brought many family relationships closer.

February 8, 2004 was when Khayden’s traumatic experience began and a month following his ordeal we are happy to say that he is beginning a very delicate journey towards recovery. A critical moment of his recovery will take place when the part of the skill that has been removed, will be put back in place. He is now out of the coma and beginning to show signs of movement in the left domain of his body. On March 5, 2004, after twenty-five days, Judy was blessed with the chance of being able to hold her son in her arms again. Our pride and our love for our daughter strengthened as we watched her take Khayden for a walk with the stroller. Doctors, nurses and patients alike noticed our pride and shared this pride through their smiles and well wishes.

To conclude this message I believe that God has a purpose for Khayden’s life. I believe that through the experience of this two-year-old boy that this little boy has something to offer that will change the course of many people’s lives in a positive way. God works in wondrous ways and while we may not understand what he has in store for us, we have to continue to have faith.

On behalf of Khayden and our families (Otter and Rupert) one simple word expresses our appreciation…Meegwetch.