It should come as news to no one that the tragic, untimely deaths of two young people in South Surrey in the space of a few days last week have sent the anxiety level of Semiahmoo Peninsula residents through the roof.
It doesn’t matter what the facts of each incident are, or what stage the investigations have reached, or what may yet be discovered. People, right here and right now, are feeling worried and disturbed.
They are also feeling a want of leadership and imagination – on any political or social level – to help them come to terms with these tragedies.
White Rock Baptist Church, where young Teagan Batstone was a junior member of the congregation, deserves credit for taking the initiative to organize a public memorial service Wednesday night to provide both a focus and a release for the feelings of the community.
Dario Bartoli’s memory, too, is being honoured this Saturday at Peace Portal Alliance Church. As well, some of his many friends have left graffiti messages at the South Surrey skate park he frequented.
The school board has provided grief counsellors and school administrations have sent out notices to parents.
The rest, as they say, is silence.
Police are typically tight-lipped during the course of an investigation. Nobody wants them to compromise their search for information, but over the past week officers have yet to address the issue of whether public safety should be a continuing concern in the wake of these incidents.
Civic politicians, many of whom were not short of comments during their most recent election campaigns, have said even less. Other community leaders, including provincial and federal politicians and social service organizations, have also offered nothing – at least en masse – to the people they serve. No doubt they, too, are hampered by a shortage of information, but that should not be an impairment to following basic principles of leadership.
Perhaps they don’t want to be seen to be voicing platitudes, but they are forgetting that it behooves true leaders to offer words of comfort at a time like this, and a reiteration of basic community values in a general sense. What are their reactions? What do they feel about such tragedies? What can they say to us to recognize – yet assuage – our fears and anxiety?
We don’t know because, so far, they aren’t telling us.
The people of the Semiahmoo Peninsula are listening.