After the frantic search for a seven-year-old girl ended in tragedy when she was found dead, Choiceland mayor Robert Mardell said the incident has left the community grieving.
“It affects the whole community,” Mardell said. “Of course it’s going to affect everyone.”
The Amber Alert was activated Thursday, Nov. 10 after Nia Eastman wasn’t dropped off at her mothers house by her father, Adam Jay Eastman. Both were found deceased by the end of the day.
Mardell said counsellors were already in place at Choiceland’s William Mason School to help students cope and two additional counsellors will attend a community meeting tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Choiceland’s Memorial Hall.
Since the announcement of Eastman’s death, a crowdfunding effort has collected more than $25,000 to support her mother and offset funeral expenses.
Mardell said supporting others is built into small rural Saskatchewan communities.
“It’s always something that small-town Saskatchewan has done,” Mardell said. “I’m proud of the individuals in this community that have taken it upon their shoulders to do this.”
According to Mardell, Eastman was well known and loved in the community as a girl who was always smiling.
“She’s going to be missed, because when she walked into a room she lit everything up,” he said. “How could you not love a pretty seven-year-old girl that’s full of life?”
Mardell said he was sympathetic to the family of Nia’s father Adam Jay Eastman, but carries “a lot of anger” as a father himself.
“What was so terrible that led a father to do this to his young child?” he asked. “I can’t imagine how he became so disjointed that he was able to perform such an act. Everyone has their demons that they have to deal with. Some people are strong enough to deal with them, and some aren’t. And obviously Jay wasn’t.”
According to Mardell flowers and tokens left by mourners have been accumulating around the home where Nia was found, and a vigil may be organized by a local church.
“This is the way the community is grieving right now,” Mardell said.
-with files from Nigel Maxwell
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