A special community mourns

March 2, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Well, it’s been one heck of a week for Dufferin County. We found ourselves plastered all over major news outlets across the province as tragedy struck, when little Kaden Young slipped from his mother’s fingers into the icy depths of the Grand River last Wednesday.

Usually, I love my job. Being a relative newbie to the journalism world, recently celebrating my fifth anniversary in the industry, there haven’t been too many occasions when I’ve had to report truly horrible news. Heartbreaking news. The sort of news that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on edge.

But, alas, that has been the situation all of us in the media here in Dufferin County have found ourselves in this week. When word first filtered through that a boy had gone into the river, there was a sense of optimism that he would be recovered alive. That was certainly the feeling last week when, on press day, we did what we could to find out as much as we could to get it in the newspaper. By the time our paper was released on Thursday morning, that optimism had faded. The search had turned into a body recovery.

I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two when realization hit early that morning that Kaden was lost. I’m not usually an emotional person, but something hit home here. Sure, we’re all familiar with death and the emptiness it can bring, but this was different. For something so tragic to happen to such a young, innocent boy… It’s difficult to find the words. And while it wasn’t nice making the drive out to Grand Valley these past few days, and it certainly wasn’t nice confirming details of what exactly happened with police officials, the one thing that has perked me up is watching the unbelievable response of people across Dufferin County.

If there’s anything that exhibits the strength of a community, it is the way its residents react when tragedy strikes. By the time I got out to Grand Valley on Thursday, there were already clusters of people joining police in combing the banks of the roaring river. There were people out in the cold offering coffee and other refreshments to those who had been searching. A candlelight vigil had been organized, where members of the community came together for Kaden.

While I wasn’t there that evening, I’ve spoken to many residents who were. Hundreds of people braved the wintery conditions to show their support for a mourning family, and to will a young boy back home. It certainly isn’t for a want of trying, either from the extensive police response or massive community effort, that Kaden has yet to be found.

After watching the reaction of this community, witnessing the posts on social media and counting the sheer number of bodies out onsite whenever I’ve stopped by, it gives me great pride to say I live and work in Dufferin County. Hundreds of people have gone above and beyond in an attempt to bring closure to this heartbreaking ordeal.

While there has been the odd mindless post or comment here and there, the togetherness exhibited over the past seven days has reaffirmed my belief in the importance of community.

While the hurt and the trauma stemming from Kaden’s loss will undoubtedly linger on for years to come, the community can be proud of the way it has rallied and stepped up to the plate over the past week.

I was told upon moving here that Dufferin County, and Orangeville in particular, is a special community. I can now, very easily, see why.

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