She’s my 2013 hero

This is a story about Jonathan, who grew up in the remote community of Fort McPherson, N.W.T. He suffered the murder of one of his sisters, fell into a drug addiction, recovered and found the love of boxing.
It’s a story about Nicole, a young lady who did a very stupid thing and in a second caused a tragic, life-altering event for herself and many others.
It’s about Jonathan’s sister, Jayda Andre and his mother, May Andre who both showed the ultimate of human decency in the mist of anguish and pain.
The events started in June 2011 when a careless driver struck and killed Jonathan Andre in Edmonton. Witnesses said the driver was road racing but with too many conflicting eye witness reports it was impossible for the charge of street racing as cause of death to stick.
Instead, in an Edmonton courtroom in November of 2013, the driver, 26-year old Nicole Reid, was convicted of careless driving. She was given a $2,000 fine and a three-month driving suspension, the maximum penalty under the Traffic Safety Act.
Reid, in tears, looked directly at the Andre family before she was sentenced and said “I just wanted to express how deeply sorry I am for your loss. I know that nothing I can say will bring him back.”
We all do dumb things. Killing an innocent person when we are behind the wheel because of negligence, stupidity or a moment of inattention could happen to any one of us. Reid was refreshing in a world that refuses to take personal responsibility. She accepted the blame and showed her feelings of regret and pain towards the grieving family.
Then the miracle happened.
In the courtroom that day Jayda and her mother, May cried and hugged Reid. They both forgave her because that was what Jonathan would have wanted.
So often we see the victim’s family come out of the courtroom spouting venom and anger: “I will never forgive them!” “They didn’t get enough for the crime!” “My family member is dead, they still have life.”
Anger is natural but without forgiveness it’s not only the victim that has lost his life, it’s the victim’s family as well. Vengeance, although it may feel good in the short-term, always defeats future happiness.
Jonathan had defeated loss and addiction to achieve recovery and success in the boxing ring as a two-time Alberta amateur junior middleweight champion.
Jayda Andre made the 3,000-kilometre trip from Fort McPherson to Edmonton, not to glare at the accused and speak harsh words, but to do the hardest human act of all – forgive.
By doing that she not only honoured her brother’s life but she brought healing to those who are still among the living: herself, her mother, Nicole and many other family members and friends from both families.
Jayda represents the true meaning of Christmas giving: understanding, acceptance and forgiveness. She’s my 2013 hero.

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