On Nov. 23, 2022, student Bekett Noble died on the Ancaster, Ont., campus of Redeemer University. Media reports and an email sent posthumously identify the death as a suicide. The fourth-year psychology student had just turned 34. Genesis, a club Noble had co-founded at Redeemer; the school; and the surrounding community have been affected by the death.
Noble co-founded the Genesis Club, an on-campus group created in 2021 to provide support and be a nonjudgmental space for people who identify as two-spirited (an Indigenous expression for transgender), lesbian, gay, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, or allies, and other identifications related to sexual orientation and gender.
The Genesis group started after a group of students within the Christian Reformed Church community prepared an overture for the CRC synod (Overture 20 from the Deferred Agenda For Synods 2020-2021, pp. 491-512).
Redeemer wrote in a Dec. 10 memorial, “Bekett was an inspiring example of how to have meaningful, respectful and gracious relationships across differences, in ways that help to solve challenges and move forward with hope.”
Shannon McBride, communications manager at Redeemer, said the Redeemer community is “saddened by the tremendous loss” and Redeemer is “focused on supporting students, faculty and staff and has provided mental health supports.” The school intends to conduct a review to understand the circumstances around Noble’s death.
Noble scheduled an email to send to the board and faculty of Redeemer the morning after their death, referencing, among other things, recent changes in Redeemer's mental health support delivery that they said left "an already struggling and helpless feeling community with nothing.” Asked about this, McBride said Redeemer had two external providers supporting the student mental health needs during the pandemic, and, “As a step toward a further investment in mental health support that would see a more stable, affordable, in-house presence, Redeemer moved from partnering with two organizations to a single provider for students. Both existing providers submitted proposals on how they might support this effort. For students, the proposed model that met these goals best was Christian Counselling Centre.”
In the weeks after Noble’s death Redeemer announced it was “fast-tracking mental health support initiatives and investments that were already planned or underway.” The announcement included establishing a “Mental Health Task Force (that) will review the best ways to meet the growing need for mental health services and supports among university students.” That includes a student advisory group to provide input to the task force—ensuring that “recommendations meet the needs of Redeemer students.” The announcement said the “advisory group will include representation from a variety of students, including student government, as well as members of underrepresented groups on campus such as LGBTQ+, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and international students.” The announcement said “gathering meaningful information from the Student Advisory group will be an important component” of Redeemer’s plans for future action.
Megg Markettos, one of Noble’s close friends, provided The Banner with a copy of Noble’s email dated Nov. 24.
The email includes suggestions for how Redeemer could become a more welcoming place, including providing “training for staff and faculty around trauma-informed care of marginalized populations” and listening to queer students when they speak up.
Markettos, in remembering her friend, said Noble was a Vancouver Canucks fan, keeper of foster kittens, and someone who was fascinated by the human body and brain. “Bekett did everything with love,” Markettos said, and “was the most Christlike person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”
In a public statement, members of the Genesis group wrote that Genesis members have been consistently meeting with university administration, and, “Redeemer’s actions have acknowledged that the voices of Genesis members are important.”
They concluded the statement by writing, “As a reminder, Genesis’ vision, as led by Bekett, was and is to work with the university to make Redeemer a caring and compassionate Christian community.”
The Hamilton Spectator and local television station CHCH reported on Noble’s death, and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic released a statement. On social media the hashtag #dobetterforbekett reached over 550k views on TikTok.
A group of “parents, friends, allies and LGBTQ2S+ members, who offer unconditional love and support,” known as Free Mom Hugs Southern Ontario, held a vigil Dec. 18 at Hamilton City Hall in honor of Noble, who was a member. About 200 people attended. During the vigil, Markettos shared Noble’s Nov. 24 email, and Olive Moody spoke on behalf of the Genesis group.
Moody and a family member of Noble were contacted for further comment. After an initial response by the family member, there was no further reply to emailed questions.
Please find resources below if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide:
Talk Suicide Canada
Call Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7) or text 45645 (4 PM - 12 AM ET). For residents of Québec, call 1 866 APPELLE (1-866-277-3553) (24/7) or visit suicide.ca.
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741) or visit 988lifeline.org