Missing Barbara Kentner: ‘Mom, don’t leave me, please don’t leave me, you can’t leave me’ - APTN NewsAPTN News

Missing Barbara Kentner: ‘Mom, don’t leave me, please don’t leave me, you can’t leave me’


Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
She played the recording of her mother’s voice over and over again.

“I love you,” it said.

It was Tuesday morning shortly after the 5 a.m. death of the mother, Barbara Kentner, 34. When the daughter, Serena, 16, entered the St. Joseph’s hospice room and saw her mother lifeless on the bed she pleaded for her mother to stay.

Mom don’t leave me, please don’t leave me, you can’t leave me…breathe, breathe, breath,” said Serena, according to her aunt Melissa Kentner who was there.

Serena then played a recording of her mother’s voice.

“She was sitting with her mom, her mom’s body right there and I couldn’t…I had to tell her to shut it off,” said Melissa Kentner, 37. “Serena just wanted to lay in bed with her…. She said, ‘Aunty, her body is cold, I want it to be warm again.’”

At this moment in the retelling, Kentner began to sob. She was sitting on a stone wall on a point overlooking Thunder Bay, the Sleeping Giant Island against the blue horizon.


It was a difficult Friday. There were the funeral preparations—writing the obituary, choosing the flowers, picking out the clothes—amidst uncertainty. It was unclear when Barbara Kentner’s body would be released by the Coroner’s office and returned to Thunder Bay. The body was in Toronto Friday for an autopsy to determine whether the trailer hitch fired from a passing car that wounded Barbara Kentner also caused her death.

There is clear link for the family, but Thunder Bay police were awaiting the results before deciding whether the aggravated assault charge against Brayden Bushby, 18, would be upgraded to murder.

“I am so tired,” said Melissa Kentner.

A little over five months earlier, shortly after 1 a.m., on Sunday, Jan. 29, after a night of visiting, Barbara and Melissa Kentner crossed McKenzie Street. They noticed a car idling a up the street. There were four young people in the car.

Melissa Kentner said she was walking ahead of her sister when she saw the car advance and a young man hang out, up to his torso, from the front passenger window. There was no immediate sense of menace. In Thunder Bay, drive-by racial harassment, along with the occasional tossed egg, is part of the landscape if you’re Anishinabee.

Then she heard, “I got one,” then the sound of a heavy object hitting the cold pavement, a car speeding away.

She turned around and saw her sister bent over and a trailer hitch on the ground. They did not know the impact from the heavy iron object had ruptured Barbara Kentner’s small intestine.

The moment altered their lives, forever; lives rooted in Thunder Bay and specifically within an eight block radius of the spot where Barbara Kentner was attacked. This was the part of the city where they grew up.

“We lived in this neighborhood. I used to live in this house,” said Melissa Kentner, pointing to a house a few dozen feet from where the attack occurred. “It just bothers me. We grew up in this neighbourhood.”


Melissa Kentner is the matriarch of her family. The oldest of four biological sisters, she is the organizational driving force behind the funeral preparations for Barbara Kentner who she cared for after their mother Mildred Kentner died in 2004 at age 43 from multiple myeloma. Their father, Roy Boucher, died at 50 two years earlier from a heart-attack.

“I had no choice but to step in and take care of my sisters all at once. I didn’t mind it though because my parents have taught us, once they are gone all we are going to have is each other to depend on,” said Melissa Kentner. “That is why I say they are my babies, yeah they are my babies.”

And now she prepared to bury one of her babies.

When Kentner stopped by the Jenkens Funeral Home director Kristen Gordon said she didn’t know when Barbara Kentner’s body would be prepared for the final journey from Toronto back to Thunder Bay. She still hadn’t heard from the funeral home in Toronto that would be handling the transfer. It was still unclear whether the autopsy was completed.

“It is just so hard to book because I don’t know what is happening,” said Gordon.

The moccasins Barbara Kentner will wear on her final journey. APTN/Photo

The moccasins Barbara Kentner will wear on her final journey. APTN/Photo

They agreed to set the funeral date for Wednesday, but it depended on the coroner releasing the body by Monday at the latest so the family could perform a planned traditional ceremony the night before the funeral, said Gordon.

“Wednesday is making more sense to me now that I think about you having to come the day before anyways for you to  do your cultural thing for her body then I need to come in and dress her, so Wednesday is looking best for you, for me and Toronto,” said Gordon.

After discussing the funeral date, Kentner handed Gordon the clothes the family wanted Barbara Kentner to wear. Melissa Kentner draped a white patterned blouse, a white camisole and black slacks—all picked out by Serena—over the back of an armchair. Then she placed two moccasins with beaded bear paws atop the armchair cushion. The moccasins were purchased with fundraised dollars by local college students. Barbara Kentner tried them on before her death.

“I want my sister buried with them. She wore them before. She said they are beautiful,” said Melissa Kentner.


After she was wounded that January morning, Barbara Kentner wanted to wait before going to the hospital. She thought maybe she would feel better in the morning. But the pain grew worse. Her belly swelled and she could hardly speak.

“When we got to the hospital they said if we would have waited another hour Barb could have been dead,” said Melissa Kentner. “I felt lost when I found out that.”

Barbara Kentner went in for surgery at 10 p.m. until 3 a.m.

“When Barb came out of it she had a bunch of drain tubes and everything in her belly. They told me that they repaired her small intestine because it was ruptured. They took out a foot of her intestines,” said Kentner.

Kentner said the doctor told her the surgery failed to clean out all the matter that had leeched from the rupture which had led to a fungus growth that would eventually consume her organs and muscle mass.

“My sister was so boney she didn’t look like herself at the end. In a couple of months she lost so much weight. That was how sick she was,” she said.

Barbara Kentner was given a few weeks to live, but she turned it into months before her body failed.

“My sister is a fighter, she didn’t want to die yet, she cried all the time, she didn’t want to go yet,” said Melissa Kentner. “This time she knew she was going to go. She felt it inside, she said it felt like her body was starting to turn to mush. She was starting to have more dreams of my mother and my father.”


Barbara Kentner was out on bail with Melissa Kentner acting as her surety during those first hours of that Sunday in January when slow death came from a trailer hitch fired from the window of a car. Barbara Kentner was facing a charge of obstruction of justice, intimidating a Crown witness and assault. All the charges stemmed from the same Nov. 8, 2016, incident. Melissa Kentner said her sister was wrongfully accused.

“It’s not true,” said Kentner. “My sister, yeah sure she was there, but my sister didn’t do anything. My sister was intoxicated at the time. How can someone be that intoxicated, barely walk, and still manage to kick somebody?”

The court documents on the charges were posted on social media triggering racist comments.

“Putting people down when they just passed away and saying a bunch of stuff about people, just has no remorse for anybody,” said Kentner.

Melissa Kentner said her sister did have her troubles and demons, but she kicked a drug habit along with methadone and Suboxone.

“She ended up getting off of that all by herself and she was clean for a long time,” she said. “But I don’t want to remember her like that. I want to remember her for all the fun times we had joking around. Barb was so fun to hang around with. She would make you laugh and joke around. She is such a caring person.”

And she was pulling her life together.

“She didn’t want to die. She didn’t want to die this young, she wanted to die later. She wanted to see her grandkids,” said Melissa Kentner. “She wanted to have another baby.”

The Kentner parents: Mildred Kentner died in 2004 at age 43 from multiple myeloma. Roy Boucher, died at 50 two years earlier from a heart-attack.

The Kentner parents: Mildred Kentner died in 2004 at age 43 from multiple myeloma. Roy Boucher, died at 50 two years earlier from a heart-attack.

Barbara Kentner was the second youngest of the four Kentner sisters. She was born on Aug. 21, 1982, at the now demolished Port Arthur General Hospital in Thunder Bay.

“My cousin…reminded me the other day…about making mud pies. We used to try to get mom and dad to eat them but me, I succeeded in getting my sister Barbara to eat them,” said Kentner. “My sister Barb remembers all this stuff I used to do to her when we were younger. We just laugh about it, the things we used to do.”

Barbara Kentner grew closest to Melissa Kentner who helped raise Serena.

“Her daughter calls me aunty mom. I raised her for seven years out of her life,” said Melissa Kentner. “Even Serena is like, with my mom, she goes, it’s like she’s not my mom, it’s like she’s my best friend. Me and Barb, we get along more together than my other two sisters. Me and her, we click. We used to fight and argue. But we still love each other, you know.”

Barbara Kentner was also able to find levity amid her darkening horizon.

“Barb was just a unique person, so caring and loving, I just enjoyed it, the weird things that we did and we just laughed about it,” said Melissa Kentner. “The last little bit when she was getting sick she used to say about her boobs and her bum. She would say feel my bum, it is all deformed, and stuff like that because she lost all her weight.”

It was her way.

Barbara Kentner. Facebook photo.

Barbara Kentner. Facebook photo.

Melissa Kentner said she often thinks about the three others in that vehicle and how they could have stopped the attack, but didn’t.

“I think they should all be charged. They could have stopped him. Eggs and everything is one thing, but throwing a trailer hitch, something that heavy and intending to hurt somebody, that is another thing,” she said.  “After I lay my sister to rest I am going all out. I want to make sure these other three kids get charged. If it was four Native kids, all four of them would still be in jail waiting for trial and everything else. But they are white kids. It’s sad, even the police system, they don’t do much to help out; sad sick and gross.”

Kentner said she shared her concerns with Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs who visited on Thursday to personally give his condolences for Barbara Kentner’s passing. Hobbs, who came alone, stayed for about 30 minutes.

“He said it made him sick how people treated Native people,” said Melissa Kentner.

Kentner said she was told by one of the detectives handling the case that two of the car’s passengers turned themselves in the day after the attack, but not the driver or the one who threw the trailer hitch.

“The (detectives) said they were still investigating, they didn’t contact us back after all of that,” she said. “They said charges are pending. And I still wonder, how long is this pending going to be? I still feel that they should also be charged. After I lay my sister to rest I am going to work on getting them all charged.”

The trailer hitch used in the attack on Barbara Kentner.

The trailer hitch used in the attack on Barbara Kentner. APTN/File

According to court records, Bushby, the young man facing the aggravated assault charge in connection with the trailer hitch attack, was given a no-contact order that included the names of three other local young people: Kassidy Hartley, Jordan Crupi and Nathan Antonisyzn.

Kentner still often passes by that spot on McKenzie Street.

“I walk by it all the time, it hurts,” she said. “I have to lay my baby down to rest and she’s with my mom and dad now, and she shouldn’t be. She is leaving her 16-year-old daughter.”

Bushby is scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Melissa Kentner watching over her sister Barbara Kentner at the St. Joseph's hospice. APTN/Willow Fiddler

Melissa Kentner watching over her sister Barbara Kentner at the St. Joseph’s hospice. APTN/Willow Fiddler


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

34 Responses to “Missing Barbara Kentner: ‘Mom, don’t leave me, please don’t leave me, you can’t leave me’”

  1. Aangel76@hotmail.com'
    AMM July 15, 2017 at 2:38 am #

    I’m very sorry for your loss, how tragic…to lose a beautiful sister.
    May your creator bless and heal your family.
    I’ll be sure to pray for you as you are in my thoughts and heavily on my heart.

  2. teresa6848@hotmail.com'
    Teresa July 14, 2017 at 4:40 am #

    RIP Barbara, prayers, love and strength to your grieving family and friends. My heart goes out to your daughter, and your sisters. I hope they can find solace and peace.

  3. amanda.j.nickerson@gmail.com'
    Amanda Nickerson July 14, 2017 at 1:50 am #

    I am so sorry for your lost. What a heart breaking story.

  4. jaboo33@hotmail.com'
    Sophie July 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

    Sending prayers, this is sad to hear, my heart goes out to the family <3 May she rest in pease

  5. lilaogilvie@gmail.com'
    Lila July 13, 2017 at 12:45 am #

    Im very sorry for your loss im a be RIP Barbara

  6. zachsbubby06@icloud.com'
    Roslyn July 12, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    Prayers for peace and strength. Beautiful tribute to Your sister and niece. May you all heal with time. So very sorry for your loss. This never should have happened. The haters make it so ugly for those they attack physically, verbally and spiritually. This must stop now. Sending love and light to you all.

  7. johnybob12@gmail.com'
    Bob July 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    Everyone seems to blame all 4 kids for the actions of one. Think about this. If you are out with friends at a restaurant and one gets up and goes to another table without saying anything to the others and punches a person in the face, should all at the table be blamed for that person’s actions when they weren’t told what he was thinking of doing in the first place?The other kids in the car did the right thing and told the truth. They didnt turn themselves in as they did nothing wrong to to call it “turning themselvea in”. We as humans have no control over another human just because we are with them. Blame the person that threw the hitch, not the kids that had no say in what he chose to do.

    • gg@takeoverworld.info'
      Gary July 20, 2017 at 6:47 am #

      Bob, you seem to be under the impression that the driver at least had no idea that his friend holding the rusty trailer hitch was intending to throw it at that woman, when he stepped on the accelerator, even when he yelled back “I got one”. You don’t believe in accessory to murder. It is probably harder to prove that the others knew or were in a position to stop the driver, although I’m sure they could have grabbed their own testicles and said they would turn him in to the police.

      There’s growing use – racist but justified — of the term “dindus” from “I dindu nuffin”. It is meant to be disrespectful. It’s meant to mock murderers and criminals (often race-based crimes) when they get caught and yell at the cops “I dindu nuffin” and the family yells at the cops and judge “he was a good boy, he dindu nuffin”. Usually the dindu comments come from Whites. Now I’m slightly surprised to see a bunch of online White people talking this “dindu” nonsense. HE DID. THEY DID. Actions like that come with a price. That’s how advanced Western society functions — even if we cannot fully redress all historical wrongs and cruelties, at least we ought to be able get it right today in the 21st Century AD. That includes a murder conviction.

  8. hattonmyra@gmail.com'
    Myra Hatton July 11, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    Stay Strong,

  9. lregnander@gmail.com'
    Loreen July 11, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    I am so sorry, rest in peace. This is a well written piece, I really got a sense of who Barbara was, thank you for telling her story.

  10. doroth_rose@hotmail.com'
    Dorothy July 11, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    The parents of the boys should be doing something for the family. Paying for the funeral, making their boys apologize on their knees …. Dispicable sad for everyone involved. Thunder Bay is so dangerous for Native people, not safe.

  11. beebeelucy@gmail.com'
    Lucy July 11, 2017 at 3:32 am #

    Yes ..A very sad ending to this woman who was a mother, sister, daughter..Such a senseless act of violence..And all because some young men were out to hurt someone just for laughs..And their hatred for another human being..Don’t worry God was watching this and he will intervene and bring justice to those who want to intentionally harm another person..R.I.P Lady and fly home with the angels…<3 No one will ever cause you hurt and pain again..

  12. peg-city-chic2727@outlook.com'
    miranda leask July 10, 2017 at 11:38 pm #

    prayers huggz&blessings&family&friends im so sorry for your great loss <3 <3 <3

  13. mariagarciajaguarwoman@yahoo.com'
    Maria Gifford July 10, 2017 at 10:46 pm #

    Prayers Up and Condolences for the Family.. Saddened for this family..

  14. billiedawn1981@hotmail.ca'
    BillieDawn Ballentyne July 10, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

    Deepest condolences to her family. So sick an tired of racism

  15. Crysach1982@outlook.com'
    Crystal July 10, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    I am so this has happened to a good woman. My deepest condolences to her daughter and family.

  16. sabrinarivers12@gmail.com'
    Sabrina July 10, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

    Rest peacefully Barb. Im so sorry.

  17. ray.c.jacob@hotmail.com'
    Ray.Jacob July 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    My condolences to you and your family

  18. drichmond1@shaw.ca'
    Diane Richmond July 10, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    I watched this story this morning it is so very sad that this has happen !! what kind of children are people raising to be so racist, it is very scary to be a first nation person living in Thunder Bay right now, I have never know it to be so bad.

    As a child my parents took us to Thunder Bay many times and I don’t remember it being this bad I hope that Justice will prevail in this case and I believe that everyone was responsible.

  19. cacote1@hotmail.com'
    Cynthia Cote July 10, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    What a senseless death, caused by hate. Hate doesn’t happen in isolation, it needs an atmosphere where it can flourish and, flourish it does in Thunder Bay. History reveals that when prejudice is left unchecked, encouraged or tolerated it becomes the norm, and what starts as slurs may quickly turn to violence. My intention is not to disparage a community, but to implore those who hear or see acts of prejudice to stand with the victim to offer their support, do not be silent. When enough people stand together they will silence those who propagate hate. I offer my sincere condolences to the family, and tell them that I am with them as are many whose voices you may not hear, know that we are here.

  20. Valeriebeardy@rovketmail.com'
    Valerie July 10, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    My condolence to the family. What a horrible tragedy to suffer because of racism and hate. I can’t believe there are people out there that hate themselves so much they have to show off their hate. I hope they feel good about themselves and I hope their own family never has to go through a tragedy like the kentner family. I hope and pray Serena finds peace and strength in herself . I know this is a hard burden to carry on a child and no one deserves this harsh experience. I hope the law takes this seriously because a slap on the wrist is an encouragement to continue the racism. In our eyes this is considered murder!!!!!it’s obvious their intention was to ” kill an indian”. Barb was a mother , a person just like all of us. She was a living soul. The creators creation. Yet someone that doesn’t understand life played God and took it upon their own hands to destroy a living being. I hope they punish and pay for what they have done. I been following this story and it’s so sad. I don’t know the family but I feel for them. Rest in peace Barbara​.

  21. merjon@sasktel.net'
    John July 10, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    Sad. Racism hurts us all: it is learned behaviour passed down from father to son. Racism doesn’t exist if it isn’t taught by elders to youngers. Elders can stop this awful practice and not teach their young people: Jesus teaches us to love everyone. Killing innocent people is not loving them. Like I said racism hurts especially if the guy who threw the trailer hitch goes to jail. No body wins.

    • auntielo245@gmail.com'
      Auntie Lo July 12, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

      Your comments are self-serving, entitled and gross. Another white supremacist trying to defend the actions of a fellow foul racist. Wouldn’t surprise me if you’re somehow connected to the murderer Brayden Bushby or his acomplices: Jordan Crupi, Kassidy Hartley or Nathan Antonisyz. Go preach to them about Jesus, you sick f*&^k.

    • gg@takeoverworld.info'
      Gary July 20, 2017 at 6:31 am #

      No, John, if the guy who committed murder goes to prison, that is called “justice” and “personal responsibility for one’s actions”, even if personal responsibility is imposed on the coward by force of Law. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Basic.
      In Biblical days, he would be formally executed. Some Christian fundamentalists believe that the only God-approved form of resolving this is a swift death penalty, Torah Law.
      Since we live in less barbaric “liberal” times, the government prescribes a prison sentence. I suppose the idea is paying for a death by losing a portion of your life, as moral restitution, hopefully rehabilitation and reform.

  22. andre-leonard@usa.com'
    Andre Leonard July 10, 2017 at 5:58 am #

    The white mans legacy of hate and cruelty know no bounds. Everywhere he goes there is death and destruction.

    • joannehusak123@gmail.com'
      Joe July 11, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

      I’m white and I don’t hate anyone or treat anyone cruelly. It’s a shame but by your comment, it shows racism toward all whites. Sad and uneducated.

      • teresastainton.ts@gmail.com'
        Teresa July 12, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

        First of all Joe, a minority can not be racist, only discriminatory. Second, I don’t think you have a firm grasp of the situation. This is not your time to say how you feel about First Nations people’s comments. This is not about you, and if you don’t realize that, then you are part of the problem.

        If you really want to help, be an ally to First Nations people. The first step in this process is getting an education about Canada’s history and treatment of First Nations people. After that, maybe you can take some time to put yourself in another person’s mocassins.

        I’m hoping that you will make changes in your everyday life, that will reflect your newfound knowledge.

        I suggest you start by researching the Truth and Reconciliation Committee findings, and reading individual testimonials of First Nations people.

        I am White and First Nations, but I look white, so I know walking around I am privileged because of the way our society treats, white people. When I go out with my relatives, it’s a totally different ball game. I see how they are treated by some people. That’s the part you don’t get. If you are white, and a male, you have white privilege, you should look that term up as well.

      • gg@takeoverworld.info'
        Gary July 20, 2017 at 6:22 am #

        I don’t believe in that theory that only White people or a majority can be racist. It’s a bogus redefinition of racism.
        On the other hand, you are what is generally termed an a-hole without basic manners or respect. You were OK when you started saying you’re white and you don’t hate anyone or act cruel.
        Lecturing people grieving a racist murder — terror attack, really — for being “uneducated” “racist” and “sad” people. We can be “insensitive” at times, but I don’t grasp how you FAIL to understand how ridiculously insensitive was the rest of your comment — more taunting — not only for First Peoples, not only for this incident, just for NORMAL human relations and NORMAL respect and self-respect – so that’s YOUR form of cruelty.

        Imagine if strangers showed up at the funeral of your loved ones to lecture you about their politics or shortcomings. (I don’t comment the same way if a thug got killed while committing violence. This was obviously not that.)
        Imagine if you joined Westboro Baptist to picket soldiers funerals, with signs that more dead soldiers is good because they believe America is Sodom & Gomorrah. It’s all just grotesque.

  23. Stonemarlene1964@gmail.com'
    Marlene Stone July 10, 2017 at 5:54 am #

    Why are people so cruel? Every human being has a right to live only the Creator decides when we leave this world. My heart truly aches for this family. My condolences to them all.

  24. Wanda63@live.ca'
    Wanda Fontaine July 10, 2017 at 5:16 am #

    My Sincere Condolences to the family ❤️

  25. lyricstory@yahoo.com'
    Lyra July 10, 2017 at 2:43 am #

    I am so sad for you and your family, Barbara Kentner. Love never dies.

  26. janedesmoulin@gmail.com'
    Jane Desmoulin July 10, 2017 at 2:24 am #

    It is soo sad, I hope they bring all four to justice. Racism is Real, Anishnabek are not like that, why is this happening to us? It’s everywhere, grocery stores, etc…. It has to STOP!!! One of Our Teachings Is to Live in A Humble Way, It Is Our Way Of Life!!! Miigwetch/ Thank You!!

    • gailpaul1923@gmail.com'
      Gail Paul July 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

      Sending Love and Prayers to you and all your Family members.

  27. jklyne_2218@hotmail.com'
    Sonny July 10, 2017 at 2:15 am #

    Sad! All because of ignorance..im a firm believer in karma…..R.I.P