Micah Messent in Haida Gwaii. Photo supplied

Courtenay family remembers Micah Messent one year later

The young environmentalist left a legacy in many ways, including support for similar students

It’s been a trying year for Suzanne Camp and her family.

The Courtenay woman and four of her children are gathering to remember the missing member of the family – youngest child Micah Messent.

It was March 10, 2019 when Messent died along with 156 other people in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which occurred shortly after the Boeing 737 went down upon takeoff from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport for Nairobi, Kenya. Some of the passengers’ loved ones have made the trip to Ethiopia, but Camp and her children have decided to get together here, with immediate family only, to quietly remember the legacy Micah left behind. Micah had been on his way to Kenya with other young people to take part in the United Nations Environment Assembly.

“It was a special project that he had actually been chosen for,” says Camp.

RELATED STORY: Micah Messent remembered as a passionate environmentalist

While talking, Camp wears a special heart-shaped pin. It was something they had made for people attending a celebration of Micah’s life last May at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds on what would’ve been his 24th birthday.

The shock is still there. Micah’s sister Amber Tansky recalls a friend of hers on the doorstep to provide support, as soon as there was news of a crash. The consulate had tried to get information, but it took about eight hours to get confirmation it was Micah’s flight.

“If you can imagine a second that just changes your family,” she says.

In some ways, the last 12 months have delayed some of the grieving process for the family, as they have been busy with the inevitable tasks that follow in the wake of someone’s death.

“I don’t feel like I’ve had time to grieve,” Camp says.

One thing that has become clear to them is how many people Micah touched in his 23 years, as many people from throughout his life have expressed how much he meant.

“We are not a small club,” his sister says. “He just had a light in his whole being.”

One aspect of the legacy Micah has left is through helping students the way he had been helped, especially through bursaries. A GoFundMe page was started last year and raised more than expected.

“It morphed into being able to support students,” Tansky says. “Micah’s still being good, he’s still helping.”

The page has generated sufficient money to support scholarships for Indigenous students attending Vancouver Island University, from which Micah graduated. He had worked on environmental issues and planned to go into Indigenous law. Camp also instilled in her children a knowledge of their Metis heritage, so the bursary money will help support other students from similar backgrounds and who see themselves on a similar path as her son.

Tansky says the family has been amazed by the amount of support from the community for the project.

“This is a way for us to say a year later, we’re grateful,” she says.

There will, in fact, be enough for two bursaries, at least for a few years. The main one will support a student continuing into post-secondary education in Indigenous studies and will run in perpetuity. There was enough leftover, however, to support another bursary for at least three years. This will focus on environmental awareness studies. They would like to focus on students at George P. Vanier Secondary first – where Micah went to school – but depending on applicants, it could be district-wide.

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The family has worked with VIU to set up a bursary in Micah’s memory. Photo supplied

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