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A coda

Posted on 2 February 2014

I spent part of this morning writing about the series I did portraying life in Prince George’s inner-city VLA neighbourhood. I’m in a celebratory mood. I pulled off a big project and I feel good about it.

As I was writing this, the major developing news story was the fact that actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman has been found dead of an apparent drug overdose. My Twitter feed is full of people mourning the loss of his life.

A week ago, to cap off the end of the series, we held a public forum at the Youth Around Prince George centre. We chose it because it offered a mix of the ability to host the event, and the fact that it is a service centre for at-risk kids, many of whom live in the VLA neighbourhood.

The day of the event, the woman who runs YAP told me not many of the kids who use the centre would be taking part. In fact, she hadn’t seen much of them in a while. It seems one of the regulars, a young man, had recently OD’d and the rest were in mourning, in their own ways. This is something that had happened before- it was to be expected that it would take a while for the kids to get over it.

I’m not disputing the sadness people feel at the death of a well-known actor. I know that celebrities can touch your life and the loss you feel when they’re gone is absolutely legitimate. Hoffman will be celebrated and remembered and mourned for being gone so young, just 46 years old. I have no issue with his death making headlines around the world.

The kid who overdosed in Prince George? I don’t know how old he was. I don’t even know his name.

Not every tragic death gets a headline.

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