Drumming, sage and broken hearts in Thunder Bay during funeral service for Barbara Kentner - APTN NewsAPTN News

Drumming, sage and broken hearts in Thunder Bay during funeral service for Barbara Kentner



 

Jorge Barrera
Video Journalist Beverly Andrews
APTN National News
It was standing room only Wednesday at the sage-tinged Thunder Bay funeral service for Barbara Kentner, the Anishinaabe woman who died a little over five months after she was struck by a trailer hitch flung from the window of a moving car in what the family calls a targeted attack.

Moments before the service began, Kentner’s 16-year-old daughter Serena stood alone at the open casket. She kissed her mother once, paused, shook her head, and then stooped to kiss her mother a second time. Then her father, Alex Mazinakouskany, moved to stand beside her.

He began to sob loudly.

“I can’t believe you’re gone,” he said.

But she was, gone at 34, after months of suffering caused by the drive-by attack which happened shortly after 1 a.m. on Jan. 29 as she walked with her sister through a neighbourhood they’d known since childhood.

Alex Mazinakouskany hugs his daughter Serena by the casket of Barbara Kentner during the funeral in Thunder Bay Wednesday.

Alex Mazinakouskany hugs his daughter Serena by the casket of Barbara Kentner during the funeral in Thunder Bay Wednesday.

A car with four occupants was waiting, parked on the road, waiting for someone, anyone, when the two sisters came into view.

“Over the years, I seen Barbara grow up, little Barbie doll. She was so pretty. She still is. She had a nice soul. She got taken early from us, too early,” said her aunt Lana Kooshet. “It has been hard on all the family.”

The family smudged together around the casket before a four-man drum group began the service, their singing filling the chapel to the brim.

Then, an Anglican minister read from John 14: 1.

“Let not your hearts be troubled,” said Rev. Gordon Holroyd.

Thunder Bay Coun. Shelby Ch’ng read a verse from the book of Revelation about a new heaven and a new earth.

Nishnawbe Aski deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox was asked from the podium by Holroyd to read the Lord’s Prayer, but Fox left before the service began.

When Holroyd opened the microphone to anyone wishing to say something about Kentner, Erin Bottle sang a traditional Ojibway death song on a hand drum. Her voice quivering at times.

“Our sisters and our people deserve to be sung to,” she said after the service. “It’s a journey song for when they make their way to the ancestors.”

Photographs of Barbara Kentner as an adult and as a child placed at her funeral on Wednesday.

Photographs of Barbara Kentner as an adult and as a child placed at her funeral on Wednesday.

Rheal Twance, one of the drummers in the drum group, said his songs were also meant to “open doors” on Kentner’s journey across.

“This is a way of respecting the family, respecting Barb,” said Twance, before the service began. “The drum always lets me know what song to sing.”

While grief permeated the service, there was also an underlying sense of anger and frustration at the events that led to this early death.

Doctors told the family the impact of the trailer hitch ruptured Kentner’s intestine which caused a fungus to grow and consumed her organs and muscle mass. She withered away.

An 18-year-old named Brayden Bushby, who fancies pickup trucks, paintball and four-wheelers, is charged with aggravated assault in connection with the attack. He has not yet entered a plea.

According to the Crown handling the case, Thunder Bay police investigators are waiting for definitive results from an autopsy performed last week to determine whether the trailer hitch attack caused the death.

“I think the young man that was charged, I think the charges should be upgraded. It was premeditated. They planned it and the people that were in the vehicle, they had the power to stop that person,” said Annabelle Bell, who attended the funeral. “They should all be charged as accessories.”

Barbara Kentner's casket is placed inside a hearse on Wednesday in Thunder Bay.

Barbara Kentner’s casket is placed inside a hearse on Wednesday in Thunder Bay.

The three other occupants have not yet been charged, but they are all expected to testify if Bushby’s case heads to trial.

The skies were grey over Thunder Bay and a light drizzle fell intermittently throughout the morning and afternoon. Dozens filled the pews at the Jenkens Funeral Home chapel and staff set up an overflow room with a screen showing the service.

The family provided a bowl with cigarettes and placed a basket with red tobacco bundles by the entrance to the chapel.

Tala King, 16, arrived late to the viewing because the city bus drove right by her as she stood at the bus stop. She was there to support her friend Serena.

Alex Mazinakouskany hugs his daughter Serena at the internment of Barbara Kentner on Thursday. Photo courtesy of the family.

Alex Mazinakouskany hugs his daughter Serena at the internment of Barbara Kentner on Thursday. Photo courtesy of the family.

“It breaks my heart that this happened to her. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” said King.

“I am not feeling good today. It is a sad day for Native people in Thunder Bay. It is a sad day for the family,” said Martina Smith. “There is nothing I could say but I have a broken heart.”

Out in the parking lot, after the casket was placed in the hearse for the journey to Sunset Memorial Gardens for the burial, Mazinakouskany’s bubbling anger finally burst.

“Fuck,” he shouted.

jbarrera@aptn.ca

@JorgeBarrera

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17 Responses to “Drumming, sage and broken hearts in Thunder Bay during funeral service for Barbara Kentner”

  1. joannekeewaycabo@knet.ca'
    Joanne Keewaycabo July 13, 2017 at 4:49 am #

    This is a sad chapter for Thunder Bay and how some people treat First Nations people.

  2. deana.sherif@gmail.com'
    deana July 13, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    My heart and prayers go out to the family and Serena, especially. Your beautiful mother has not died in vain. A change will come. It must.
    I am so sorry.

  3. dpolgar@shaw.ca'
    Donna July 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

    Even the bus driver that passed by Tala King as she was on her way to the funeral is a part of this hatred towards the Aboriginals. Small things add up to bigger things, and it’s time for this racism to stop. My condolences to all who mourn.

  4. cannepalmer@hotmail.com'
    christine palmer July 13, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    my condolences to family and friends, I live in Australia and it had sadden me to have read this sad story – GOD Bless

  5. ashleygreen400@yahoo.com'
    Ashley July 13, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    Upgraded charges MUST be laid. But, with Thunder Bay’s tarnished image, city cops will find a way around it, and won’t lay or upgrade the charges. I’ll be surprised, if they do. Maybe a public rally would be in call??

  6. sevigny@att.net'
    Laurie July 13, 2017 at 7:30 pm #

    Sorry for your loss. Too young and the circumstances are unacceptable. Prayers and songs to you all from Sparks Nv Mni Wiconi!! Smudging for you and Barbara, may she rest in peace.

  7. c.t.carpenter@hotmail.com'
    Connie July 13, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

    My heart goes out to the family, yes it is very sad, something that should not have happened, Rest In Peace Barbara, may you dance and fly with the Angels on Eagles Wings❤

  8. callecodjnt1@aol.com'
    Jan Little Eagle Callecod July 13, 2017 at 11:11 pm #

    My Deepest Sympathy to friends and family. Prayers and Smoke up for all.

  9. aliciarubi@hotmail.com'
    Alicia July 14, 2017 at 1:05 am #

    What a terrible loss! My heart goes to the family, her children, husband…. May you rest in peace dear Barbara <3 .

  10. Diana.wfg@gmail.com'
    Diana July 14, 2017 at 1:37 am #

    This is a tragedy that should not have happened. Young adults think they are entitled. Rest In Peace for the Lord will come to you.

  11. arolandsandresources242@gmail.com'
    ERNIE GAGNON July 14, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    The real truth and punishment will come to all for this early death if not in this earthly lifetime!

  12. Slongboat@gmail.com'
    Shelly July 14, 2017 at 10:34 pm #

    Condolences to family, i pray justice is served to all individuals involved.And they wonder why people take the law into their own hands.

  13. S.gibbon@hotmail.com'
    Shannon July 15, 2017 at 3:37 am #

    My condolences to Serena and her family. My thoughts and prayers are with you today and always. Im so glad that you have some really great friends who all stick together and one of them is my daughter and also your beautiful family who support each other in your time of need and the days ahead. May your beautiful mom rest in peace

  14. victori.laine@gmail.com'
    Victoria July 15, 2017 at 5:56 am #

    Died by racism. My deepest condolences to your family, and I offer prayers for healing, and for the ascension of her soul.

  15. nancyemcbride@gmail.com'
    Nancy July 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

    My deepest and most heart felt condolences go out to the family. Especially her daughter. Charges MUST BE UPGRADED and the others in the car MUST BE CHARGED AS WELL for their participation in this murderous hate crime.

  16. marc@ironwoodbowyer.com'
    Marc July 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm #

    Murder is the only charge for this crime and all in the truck must be charged as accomplices.

  17. smith_anne_marie@hotmail.com'
    KitchissippiKwe July 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    Alex & Serena & family, deeply sorry for your loss.
    You are not alone; it has rippled across our Nations,
    the whole of Canada and around our Mother.
    We are with you in Strength & Spirit around our fires.
    aho!