Second COVID-19-related death in Kanesatake

·3 min read

If there was one Kanehsata’kehró:non known to be the life of the party, it was Perry Bonspille.

For anyone who knew him, the night wouldn’t start until Perry arrived. His sister, Lori Bonspille, even called him a dancing fool. Sadly, on March 10, Perry danced to his last song as he took his final breath at the St. Jerome Hospital.

Kanesatake is mourning his death as Perry passed away from COVID-19 complications. He is the second Kanehsata’kehró:non to die after contracting the virus. He is survived by his brother Russell, and his sisters Bertha, Sheila, Patsy, Pearl and Lori. He was predeceased by his older brother, Lester and parents, Emerson and Grace Bonspille.

Mohawk Council of Kanesatake grand chief Serge Otsi Simon released a statement on March 15 to honour Perry’s life.

“Many of us knew Perry and his personal challenges throughout his life, but we never knew him to wallow in self-pity,” read the statement. “Instead, all he ever showed was laughter and the joyful pursuit of friendships and a love of life.”

Similarly, if there’s one thing Perry’s sister Lori emphasized, it’s the way Perry loved and appreciated every moment. She explained that even if Perry, throughout his entire life, had many different medical complications, he was one of the most resilient and tough men she had ever known.

“The biggest lesson my brother taught me is to be strong and to have a good heart,” said Lori. “To enjoy life. With his sickness, he had so many limitations but he just enjoyed it all. He had a smile for everyone.”

Perry, 60, worked as a dispatcher for the former Kanesatake Mohawk Police station, until his health wasn’t strong enough for him to move around. While the average life expectancy for patients is five to 10 years, Perry had been on dialysis for the past 30 years to treat his kidney problems.

For his sister Bertha, his true courage lay in the way he was dealing with all his medical issues.

“Even at the end, he said he’d fight his battle with COVID-19 as he fought all medical issues,” said Bertha.

His condition didn’t stop him from grabbing his cane and going for walks with his furry best friend, Jake Daniels Bonspille. One of Perry’s closest friends, Brigitte Pominville Toohey, recalled how the two of them became inseparable. Toohey had rescued the schnauzer from an abusive situation and was trying to find him a forever home.

“Perry had never had a dog, nor was he a dog lover by any means,” she said, “but when he came over to visit, and the two met, it was absolute love at first sight! It was like the cartoons with the little hearts and butterflies flying around them.”

“Concert, music and photography were his passions, and his dog Jake was like his child,” specified Lori.

Perry was buried at the Pine Hill Cemetery in Kanesatake on Saturday, March 13, where family and friends gathered to share memories of their loved ones. He was a ray of sunshine who never wanted people to feel sorry for him - a selfless person who always put others before him.

“Any situation, whether positive or negative,” said Toohey, “he’d always say ‘and then we danced.’”

Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door