You could tell that Mark Petawabano, though only 18, had left his mark on the Cree Nation. Buses came from Wemindji, Waskaganish, Waswanipi and O.J., with many others just driving in June 12 to say goodbye to Mark. The arena was filled to capacity as mourners paid their respects to the promising youth whose body was discovered June 10 after being missing in the bush for several days.
One would wonder how such a young man could generate a response like this. One person told me that Mark never said anything against anyone and was always caring for people with respect. My mother told me that she walks with Maggie Petawabino, Mark’s mother and while they were walking they talked about Mark. Mark would sometimes hang out with people who were not the most popular or well liked youth in the community at times. She asked him why. Mark replied, “Because they need me, mom.”
That reply showed the depth of maturity and caring that Mark always showed.
I would like to share a story with you. This story comes from the east.
When the earth was young and the animals and plants were being created the last one to be made was a bird, it was the most beautiful bird in the world. Its plumage made peacocks look plain and all the other birds were jealous of it. They would attack and peck at it on sight. The bird took to hiding and would only creep out at night to feed and drink. One night while it was doing this the moon looked down and said, “My, what a beautiful creature you are.” The bird implored the moon to keep quiet as not wake or attract any other birds. “Why?” asked the moon. The bird told its sad tale and asked the moon if it could help it. The moon said yes and the bird was transformed into a plain brown little bird. The bird opened its beak to thank the moon and a beautiful song came out. “What happened?” said the bird and the moon answered this, “Beauty can never be destroyed, it can only be transformed.”
The beautiful person that was Mark cannot destroyed also, he can only be transformed.
Here is the eulogy that was given by Jeff Spencer:
MARK PETAWABANO EULOGY
“MY HOCKEY BOY”
We are here today to pay tribute to one of our young people, a very ….very special young man. We are not here to say goodbye but to remember and honour Mark Petawabano, son, brother, uncle, friend, and loved one that in some special way touched and / or affected our lives for a brief moment or throughout the years.
WOW – That was the way we described Mark Petawabano’s incredible talent on the ice.
This was also the thought on Tuesday night when we got together with the Bears and Falcons to discuss something I would deem unimaginable – a eulogy for one of the hockey players, let alone “my hockey boy.” I have had many hockey children over the years – someone once asked me when I first started with the Bears if I had a son playing….I replied why yes “him, him, him….and went through the entire team.” You see, they are all my hockey children.
But Mark was “my Hockey Boy,” a name that I used even when talking with him as I had a special place for him inside. After all he was Michael’s brother (Michael, the first person to accept me into his life and family when I first moved to Mistissini, and the Cree Nation, along with “mom” Maggie Louise and Paul).
When Paul asked me if I could perform the eulogy I told him I was honoured. I loved Mark, the Petawabano family and I share their heartfelt sorrow today. To Cherish and your family, although I did not know you before today, I am happy to have met you. But I do know that Mark loved you very much.
To all the family, I hope that some of the loss that you feel today may be spread amongst all the people that Mark affected with his infectious love. And to all the men and women, Police and Fire, Volunteers that showed their support in the search, we thank you. Your dedication will long be remembered. Never stop that dedication to our People.
But there is a feeling combating the pain today. Joy. The Joy
knowing how many people came to know Mark……….how he embraced you with that charismatic smile, that certain sparkle that was always in his eyes.
My son Zachary asked me Monday night “Why did God take Mark, he was so young?” I thought about it briefly and answered him. God needs angels of all ages to reach out to the people. Mark was special and God knows that he will be able to guide young people like you and others. There was a smile and single tear and I knew then that Mark would be there for my son and all other young people. He misses Mark a lot as we all do.
Mark was dynamic both on and off the ice, always keeping you guessing. His character and leadership were never in doubt…especially off the ice wondering what prank he was going to get you with next or what he would say. Kind of like what Ryan did with the chair (Just prior to the eulogy Ryan pulled a chair out from Travis Blacksmith and he fell). For the first time I had met my match, someone that had an answer for everything I said…and believe me that is difficult.
Each time Mark was on the bench, no matter what arena, and the game was on the line, you would hear “Put on Mark” or “Put on that Petawabano boy” or “Put on # 9.” This came not only from parents but also strangers – people that were seeing him play for the first time.
When Mark took to the ice there was always a sudden sense of awe from the crowd. You could hear the murmurs….knowing that something electrical was about to happen….a big hit, fast paced skating, moves with such a finesse that could have graced a ballet stage; and ultimately when needed a goal.
I have a couple hockey memories to share with you about Mark. Believe me there are many that I can recall but I said I would try and be brief.
The first was raw talent. This past season I watched Mark hit the ice, down a goal and skating with such confidence (he always did). There was under a minute to play and I watched the buzz of the crowd as he went in and scored to tie the game. The game went to overtime and Mark scored the winning goal sending the fans home with smiling faces, awed by his desire to succeed.
This young man also had strength and character – not just on the outside but also inside. In the 2001 Chrysler Cup Quarter Finals, we were tied in overtime with time running down. I saw Mark take to the ice. There was that hush over the crowd. I thought to myself – this is it – my boy is going to do it. He skated up the ice with purpose, made some incredible moves to leave the opponents behind with only the goalie left. In all alone he shot to the top of the net…out of nowhere the goalie brought
his glove up and caught it at the last second. The whistle blew and Mark headed towards the net. Usually this might lead to some after whistle skirmish. However when an opposing player approached, Mark tipped his head as to say something and the player stopped skating. Mark then tapped the pads of the Goalie as if to say “Great Save”. This goalie now felt what we all have -the true nature of Mark inside. We lost in a shootout and that team went on to win the final two games with ease to become Provincial Champions. As I sat in the stands there were Hockey Quebec Officials with me and they were amazed. Not only did he have talent but such spirit and sportsmanship. At that time a woman came to me in tears to thank me and our organization for that character. I did not know then that those tears would come to mean so much to me today as I felt my own tears flow this week.
I remember telling Mom on Thursday night that I had gotten a tryout for Mark with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. I remember the smile that she gave me and we both said “We never give up on our boy do we.” Maggie Louise told me that she would send Mark to see me the next day….we never got to speak. I saw the Going to Victoriaville ….August on his email and I knew – even for a moment – that Mark must have felt inspired (I found out that she had told him about the tryout and he had said that this was it – he was going and he was going to stick it out no matter what).
As I look at these young men around me from all the teams that played with Mark, I know that Mark will be missed. But never forgotten. We must build from our sorrow, this loss to gain strength for not only those here today but all YOUTH. We must not get angry at them but understand and guide, never push them away but pull them close and tell them that we love them and are here for them.
Dynamic, Character, Brother, Uncle, Friend, Adventurous, Buddy, Superman, Hero, Laughter, Funny, Heart. These are some of the words that I have heard over and over these past few days from Elders, Middle aged (old as Mark deemed me – along with a few other things) and Young.
RESPECT. Mark never let you pass him by without a “hey man” or “hey buddy”. Although we all get angry, I cannot remember one time where Mark was angry and became disrespectful to anyone. We respected Mark, his abilities, his courage and most of all his leadership.
I have a few comments to share from his teammates / friends.
When I was young Mark was my hero. I always looked up to him, tried to be just like him. He was like Superman to me. Everything he did, I tried to do but failed most of the time but he still encouraged me. That’s basically what I loved about him and all kinds of other staff. We’re all going to miss you. Plus he wasn’t just an uncle to me, he was more like a brother.
Mark, how can I start about Mark? First of all he was always fun to be around, it seems like everytime you were with him it would be an adventure. Mark was never the type to put down anyone; he gave everyone a chance to be his friend. Mark was always so open, but maybe a little too open while intoxicated (laughing). There’s so much to say about Mark so I’ll keep it nice and short. He was my uncle, a great friend and my brother. Hope to see you soon Mark. I know you’re watching down on me. You’re my guardian angel now.
To the Youth, live life with joy, sorrow, prayer. Remember Mark – the good times and yes there were many. Everytime you need him he will be here (TOUCH HEART) and here (TOUCH HEAD) guiding you talking to you befriending you. Never turn away or keep things inside. There are people to rely on / to talk to. I do what I do for you all my hockey children to give you the opportunities to succeed in life through sport and love.
I am here for you if ever you need someone to talk to. FIND ME. I am never too busy for you, loving you as I did Mark. Day and night – 24 hours a day I will always be here for you.
To the parents – hug your children today and every day. Tell them you love them. Encourage all the Youth, show them you care and don’t ever lose sight of their importance.
I would like to share a quick Psalm before closing. This bible was given to me by Annie Iserhoff when I lost my father in law under similar circumstance 3 years ago.
Mark, as I look to the skies this morning, to the heavens, I know that I touched your life and know that you have inspired me also. This is not goodbye as I know I will see you again someday my son, “My Hockey Boy”.
June 12, 2003
Neoskweskau Memorial Arena
Dear Mark Nicolas Jordan Petawabano
Today is June 10th 2003. I am lying on my bed and thinking about the things we did together and it makes me laugh and it even makes me cry. I know that you loved me and that you cared for me a lot because you were always there for me, whenever I was down or I felt left out. I remember when you’d always tell me that you didn’t want to loose me. And you know what, you never will. I also remember you once told me that love is hard to find and that you didn’t want to loose mine and I am very thankful for that. I want to thank you for respecting me, loving me, caring for me and always being there when I was down and making me smile or even laugh, especially at your jokes. I also thank God for the two beautiful months He gave us to be together because we were together almost every day. I also thank Him for helping you come to Waskaganish with us and for you to see your friends, my friends, my family and everybody you knew. After three weeks you had to go back and see your family and friends. I remember when we, my mom and I took you to the airport and my mom told you she enjoyed your visits here in Waskaganish. She also added that you were always welcomed in our home. You had a smiley face and said thank you Donna. Then I invited you to come and kiss me so you kissed me and smiled. You told me you loved me and I really loved you too, I’ll always love you and I am going to miss you dearly. I am always going to be there for your mom. Because you would always tell me how much she meant to you. Until we meet again, Mark. I believe we will meet again someday, because nothing is impossible with God.
Farewell Mark. I love you! Love always, Cherish Stephen.
Miss me – But let me go
When I come to the end of the road And the sun has set for me I want no rites in a gloom-filled room Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little – but not too long And not with your head bowed low Remember the love that we once shared Miss me – but let me go
For this is a journey we all must take And each must go alone It’s all part of the Master’s plan A step on the road to home
When you are lonely and sick of heart Go to the friends we know And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds Miss me – but let me go
Your kind heart, smiling face.
Each step you took with such grace,
As now you have left an empty space,
No one can ever take your place.
A grave shame, who were we to blame?
As God came, taking you away.
All we do now is pray, not knowing what to say,
On the 6th of june, you were missing.
Our heads are bowed low, the pain trying not to show,
Sitting here reminiscing, we began missing,
Our friend, our brother,Our cousin,Our uncle we can no longer pretend.
As much as we hate it, Your gone.
You have reached eternal life, forever free,
A journey we will all take.
As you stare down and smile,
Awaiting our arrival.
For now your memory still shines bright,
Inside us all, not allowing us to fall.
As we all stand tall, the way you would want it to be.
As once more we will see your face.
No One Can Ever Take Your Place
*ln Loving Memory Of Mark Petawabano* Farewell Our Star
By: Melina Neeposh
June 10th, 2003.
Today is a very sad tragic day for all of us. I just thought to write something about Mark Petawabano. Mark, I was very proud to have you as my nephew in this short journey of your life. I will never forget the young man with the flashing blades who wore #9 for our hockey team.
Whenever the hockey players used to come out from the dressing room and unto the ice for a game, I always looked for #9. I know it will be hard for many fans to go to the arena to watch hockey games, knowing that they will not see a young man with dashing speed wearing the #9.
But, I know you are happy and peaceful where you are now, for I know when God looked upon his kingdom, He saw he needed an angel and he looked down into this troubled world, looked beyond the crowd and saw you. So Mark, this is not good-bye, I will see you later. You will always be remembered, I’m heartbroken and you will be missed sadly.
Love you, from your uncle Sam Petawabano.