From the Playwright, Director,
Cast & Crew of the 2010 Winter Bear Production
We were scheduled to perform The Winter Bear in Galena, the home of Sidney Huntington, on Oct. 16. On Oct. 14, we received word that a 21-year-old man in the village had committed suicide the night before.
We didn’t know what to do. We were afraid that our play, which explores the causes of suicide, would be too raw, that we would be intruding on their grief. Yet we also felt our timing could be perfect to help those in need. They told us to come ahead. No one had any idea what would happen.
When we landed in Galena, 95-year-old Sidney was there to meet us at the air taxi. At a potlatch in our honor, he spoke eloquently about the need to bring the pain of suicide out in the open. He gave a blessing at the play and then he and his wife Angela sat in the front row.
We did our play. Everyone listened. They shared their grief with us. We listened.
Something in all of us shifted.
Everything that we have been given from this play comes from the fact that Sidney Huntington was willing to expose painful parts of his life to help others and that his family was willing to let him do this.
Sidney was there to see us off when our plane left. He made us feel loved, respected, cared for, and important. Through his example, he showed us what we have to do for every precious young person
Sidney Huntington’s Speech
Speech given at a potlatch honoring cast & crew of The Winter Bear,
Galena, Alaska, October 15, 2010
Thank you for all coming to show your support for the play “Winter Bear.” During my early life, young people taking their own life was unheard of. The culture has changed and the way of life has definitely changed. The elder of those days taught the younger generation how to survive off the resources that the land provided.
It has been my sole goal to try to help educate young people to meet the challenges ahead of them to survive in this continually changing world. Education is the key to survival and to the prevention of suicide.
You, the young people, you are the future of this country. We need you. You were put on this earth for a purpose. Life will be difficult at times but those times will pass; your elders are here for you and want you to choose life.
God Bless you all. Again, Thank You.