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The Late James Delorey


Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I rise today on a very sad note. Last Saturday, James Delorey, a 7-year-old boy from Cape Breton, wandered away from his family's home. He followed the family dog, Chance, out into the woods, no doubt on the sort of adventure little boys enjoy; but he did not come home that day. He was not dressed for the cold; no winter coat, no hat, no mittens. The first snowstorm of the season was on its way.

Hundreds of people in Cape Breton — the police, volunteer firefighters, the military, emergency services and ordinary citizens — mounted the most extraordinary search. Little James had autism and did not speak, so they knew that he would not respond to the calls of people searching for him. The searchers did everything they could. They played his favourite music and offered him pizza, his favourite food, anything they thought might reach him.

Two days later the dog returned home. By retracing the paw prints through the snow, searchers eventually found little James. He was almost frozen, but he was alive, against almost incredible odds. We can only imagine how James must have felt lost in the woods as the snow began to fall. As a father, my heart aches for his parents, Jason and Veronica, who lived the worst horror of all: Their little boy was lost and they could not protect him.

On Monday afternoon, the joy of finding him alive quickly turned to grief because, despite the best efforts of the surgeons, doctors and nurses, he succumbed to hypothermia on Tuesday morning and died at the IWK Health Centre children's hospital in Halifax.

Honourable senators, I want to pay tribute to the people of Cape Breton. I want to pay tribute to their compassion and their generosity. Nothing in life can prepare a person to lose a loved one, least of all a child. For a few days this week, James was everybody's little boy. God rest his soul and God bless his family.