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'A remarkable life': Teenager who inspired many in the Cree Nation remembered

Phoenix Neeposh, 14, had been fighting osteosarcoma - bone cancer - since the age of eight. 

Phoenix Neeposh, 14, is remembered for his beautiful smile and love of hockey

Phoenix Neeposh, right, with his father Eugene. 'Phoenix fought a great battle, he didn't quit, he was just tired, he fought to the end,' Neeposh on Facebook. (Submitted by Eugene Neeposh)

The Quebec Cree Nation is mourning the loss of a teenager who inspired many with the courage and grace he showed over a several-years-long battle with cancer. 

Phoenix Neeposh was 14 years old when he died on Sept. 11. 

"Phoenix fought a great battle, he didn't quit, he was just tired, he fought to the end," wrote his father, Eugene Neeposh on Facebook. 

Phoenix had been battling osteosarcoma — bone cancer — since the age of eight. 

"He has no more pain and is in a better place now. Thank you to everyone with your great support and especially your prayers," wrote Neeposh.

Rest in peace ... our Cree Nation son.- Abel Bosum, Cree grand chief

Quebec Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum shared a message of support for the family on social media. 

Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum mourned Phoenix's death. (Cree Nation Government/Facebook)

"Rest in peace ... our Cree Nation son," wrote Bosum in a Facebook message, sending condolences out to Phoenix's parents, Eugene Neeposh and Hillory Kitchen, as well as extended family in the Cree communities of both Mistissini and Waswanipi. 

"The hearts of the Cree Nation go out to [you]."

Calling Phoenix's time "a remarkable life journey" that ended too soon, Bosum wrote that many were inspired by his example.

"Phoenix's memory will remain a lasting blessing to all who knew him, were inspired by him, and who loved him," wrote Bosum.

One of the people who was inspired by Phoenix was Israel Mianscum, who is currently playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Sherbrooke Phoenix and who will be eligible for the NHL entry draft in 2021. 

'What would Phoenix do?'

"Rest easy my great friend," wrote Mianscum on social media, saying that Phoenix has long been a role model for him. 

'You've motivated me in my hockey career since day one,' wrote QMJHL player Israel Mianscum. (Submitted by Israel Mianscum)

"You've motivated me in my hockey career since day one. I always think to myself whenever I want to quit or feel down: 'What would Phoenix do?'"

Hockey was one of Phoenix's great loves, according to many who knew him. Before his diagnosis, he played for the Waswanipi Chiefs Minor Hockey team. He was also a big fan of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.

"I was deeply saddened to hear the passing of this little warrior," wrote Wayne Rabbitskin on Facebook, adding he was a remarkable young man "with the biggest heart and the brightest smile."

Smile always present

Many people have been sharing stories of Phoenix over social media and many spoke of how he had an easy and always present smile, despite what he was going through. 

'I was deeply saddened to hear the passing of this little warrior,' wrote Wayne Rabbitskin on Facebook, adding he was a remarkable young man 'with the biggest heart and the brightest smile.' (Submitted by Wayne Rabbitskin)

"This young boy had a contagious smile that no person could refuse but to smile back," wrote John Henry Wapachee on Facebook. 

Wapachee also shared a story about how his family adopted Phoenix's dog Oreo about five years ago when Phoenix could no longer care for the dog himself. 

"Just before noon ... Oreo came to me at the table where I was sitting," wrote Wapachee on Sept. 11, the day Phoenix died.

"It was like something was bothering her and [she was] making sounds as if she is mourning for something.... When I heard the news of the passing of Phoenix, I understood why," wrote Wapachee.

Funeral services set for Friday

"Every now and then, I would cross paths with Phoenix and I would tell him that Oreo is doing fine and he would smile," wrote Wapachee.

Funeral services for Phoenix are being planned for Friday morning in Chibougamau, Que., with burial services and a feast later the same day in Waswanipi. 

Phoenix's dog Oreo. 'Every now and then, I would cross paths with Phoenix and I would tell him that Oreo is doing fine and he would smile,' wrote John Henry Wapachee. (Submitted by John Henry Wapachee)

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