One of the saddest chapters in the history of the Cree Nation came to a partial close January 11, when Trevor Spencer was sentenced to 54 months in jail – which actually translates to 32 months after time already served is taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, Khayden Otter-Rupert, the little boy he savagely beat with a stick, will live with the affects of the abuse for the rest of his life. With partial paralysis on his right side, and unable to walk straight, he will one day ask why is he different from other children. What did he do to deserve this?

The answer is nothing.

I wish I could tell Khayden when he is old enough to understand that the man who did this to him has serious problems and none of it was Khayden’s fault.

Unfortunately, the weight of what happened will eventually weigh down on him. Let’s hope he’s strong enough and that, along with his family, he is able to get through what will almost surely be a hard time once again.

I had mixed emotions about Spencer’s sentencing. It’s good that he’s still in jail and won’t serve his sentence in a halfway house and return in six months to Waswanipi like his lawyer had requested.

But on the other hand he’s only going to serve another 32 months at the most for a crime he committed while holding a title, as Khayden’s foster father, that he never deserved.

He had a history of alcohol abuse and two previous convictions that amply demonstrated his penchant for violence.

While many important social issues face the Cree people every day, child abuse or neglect should be a higher priority.

The outpouring of support for Khayden in all nine communities was nothing short of a miracle.

My question is why does it take a highly publicized case for some people to want to change their ways? Shouldn’t we always love and respect our children?

Don’t get me wrong; I believe that the majority of people in Eeyou Istchee take good care of their kids, but those who aren’t good parents now know they have eyes watching them more closely.

But for how long? What kind of real changes are going to be made within the communities?

Some people don’t fully realize that the children are the future of the Cree Nation.

When everyone here at the Nation first learned about what happened to Khayden we weren’t sure how to react. Some reacted with anger, others didn’t know how to react.

Now, 11 months after the fact, we still feel a lump in our throats when the little guy’s name comes up.

There have been rumblings within Waswanipi about a petition to make sure Spencer never sets foot back in Waswanipi again.

I think this is an idea that should be put into motion. How safe would you feel if a convicted child abuser comes into your town to live?