In Loving Memory of Jenzele Couassi

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Family and friends of Jenzele Couassi gathered for a prayer vigil on the night of April 22. This was just hours after her loved ones were delivered the unfortunate news that her body was discovered near the Tulalip teen center after she was reported missing over the weekend.

Her classmates, and many people she knew from both the Tulalip and Marysville communities were present at the vigil to not only shower her family with love, support, and prayers, but also to share about the person Jenzele was, their relationship to her, and the love they have for her. 

It was a heartbreaking night, but Tulalip culture bearers did their best to let Jenzele’s parents and her brother know they are not alone. They encouraged all of her loved ones to lean upon their shoulders through this difficult time. 

While many reflected on the light which Jenzele emanated, an eagle soared above the vigil and made a pass over the bay before it perched on a nearby tree and shared a song. This moment brought a bit of comfort to the family. Tulalip drummers and singers then sang the powerful and emotional song, Fly Eagle Fly, which was composed by the Antone George (Lummi).  

An important message that tribal leaders and Marysville School District faculty shared with the youth was to reach out to their peers and community for help whenever they are struggling, and they also urged them to be there for each other in their times of need. 

Said Tony Hatch, who guided the vigil and spoke on behalf of the parents, “I’m really happy to see that so many people showed up for the family. It’s overwhelming for the parents, but on the other side, they get to see the amount of love that their daughter brought to this community. And they get to experience that togetherness, to know they’re not alone; we’re with them all the way through. It breaks my heart that this is something that our kids get really good at – these type of candlelight vigils. And the reason why they’re good at it is because they’ve had to put away so many of their friends that they’ve went to school with. 

“We always hope and pray that they learn something from it; that they learn how to get along, how to be together and not beat on each other. Randy Vendiola said it great tonight – the best counselors out there for our kids are other kids. Kids want to talk to people their own age more than they want to talk to an adult sometimes. And as adults, we need to keep hammering away and getting them to open up when the times are tough. So, they know that it’s not the end of the world when something bad happens. Again, my heart breaks for her family. I hope they reach out to us for help with anything they need. I really hope they do.”

Our deepest condolences to Jenzele’s family and friends. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, you can call 988 for free confidential support 24hrs a day.