Aiden Cameron Nephin Cunningham was born Feb 2, 2003 and his Mom, being just 17yrs old, was unconditionally in love her Son, committing her life to him; Aiden would be Ashley’s only child because of this whole hearted commitment. Being her one and only meant he had his mother’s undivided love and attention, developing a bond only a single mom and her only Son can reach. Aiden loved his Mom and wasn’t shy about displaying affections, always making sure to hug and kiss, argue about who loves who more, whether it be in person or on the phone. Aiden and his mom had many routines to keep life on track over the years, but her favorite moments were after the three stories that were read before bedtime when she would lay her head over his heart and listen to it beat. Aiden had a heart murmur from birth that created extra beats, creating a beautifully musical sound that never had the same rhythm. Aiden would stroke her hair until he patted the top of her head to indicate he was ready to play with his chosen toys of that night. Eventually Aiden decided he was too old for stories and the routines changed as he grew older, but he would always allow his mom to listen to his heartbeat when asked, knowing how much his Mom loved his beautiful heart.
Aiden’s father was Jared Cameron Nephin and although he didn’t have much interaction with Aiden following his first year, he would inherit many of Jared’s traits; Aiden’s love of music, always having the confidence to wear bright and expressive clothing, never having any fear when trying something new, and the habit of going from friend’s house to friend’s house to socialize throughout the day. Jared passed away before Aiden would have the opportunity to meet him as a young adolescent. Aiden was fortunate to have James Plourde commit to the role of Dad, easily loving Aiden unconditionally along with his own three children. Aiden knew he was secure in his bond with his Dad, being able to seek support and acceptance or the guidance and education only a Dad can give a Son.
Aiden’s Nana, Shelley Degagne, would be called “The Nana” because of how important she was to him. The bond between a first time grandparent and their grandchild is an especially deep unconditional love because it’s renewed through the love for their own child. Aiden and his Nana would spend many weekends together throughout his childhood, often having lunch and movie dates, going on adventures, and just loving each other’s company.
Aiden’s Papa Mark and Papa John were strong figures in his life. Papa John Nephin always passing on advice about life experiences or support during difficult moments. Papa Mark’s encouragement towards responsibility and investing in his future educational goals. Aiden enjoyed spending time with his Papas throughout his childhood and was looking forward to being able to relate to his Papas on a more mature level as he was growing into a young man.
Aiden has a brother and sister, Harlee and Hope Nephin, as Jared went on to have two more children prior to his passing. Aiden and his sibling would come together to mourn and honour their father and remained forever committed to one another. Aiden was extremely happy to be a big brother and took the role very seriously. Aiden would brag about how smart and kind his little sister is. Aiden spoke with pride about how his brother looked so much like him, finding comfort in that connection they share. Aiden had been looking forward to watching his sibling accomplish their goals as they each moved forward in life together, towards being able to develop and grow their relationships while they were maturing into adults.
Aiden and Shawn Plourde called each other brother and developed into a solid bond that doesn’t often happen in a blended family. They spent countless hours together; at the skate parks, playing video games, swimming, or shopping. Aiden was very protective of his sisters, Katelyn and Jay. He was accepting of each of them as they grew into individuals, respecting Jay’s pronouns and name preference, showing unconditional love and support. Aiden and Katelyn shared many of the same interests and would confided in eachother with confidence in their trust of one another.
Aiden was blessed to have large extended family filled with many aunties, uncles, and cousins of many generations. Aiden was especially close to his Uncle Kyle and Uncle James. Aiden looked up to his Uncle Kyle and regarding him with the respect and love usually reserved for fathers. Uncle Kyle and Auntie Calynn provided Aiden with his own room in their home, supported him through difficult situations, which allowed him to accomplish goals and move forward towards continued success in his schooling and employment opportunities. Uncle James and Aiden were close in age as they were only 11yrs apart so they would often be found playing videos games or talking about Pokemon. Aiden got to go out with his Uncle James camping and fishing, which was an activity Aiden wanted to be able to experience more of, especially with his Uncles.
Aiden loved his Auntie Chey and always looked forward to spending time with her, knowing she would spoil him with treats and loud toys. Cheyanne had previously been married to Joe Thomas and Aiden loved his Uncle Joe, always having a funny story to tell about something they did together. Aiden’s Auntie Christy gave Aiden four cousins, Kayden, Kyler, Nick and Lucas, to hang out with on sleep overs and there was never a dull moment when they were all together. Aiden had a special bond with his Auntie Vanessa as she babysat him often, which gave him the opportunity to spend time with his cousins Landon and Aubree. Aiden felt an obligation to provide for Landon, making sure his favorite toys or clothes went to Landon when he was ready to pass them on for someone else to enjoy. Aubree is the only girl cousin and Aiden adored her from the moment she was born, believing her to the sweetest blessing to our family. Aiden was welcomed into the home of his great aunt Shelia Zimmerman in Atikokan and attended Atikokan High School for a semester while in gr. 9. He developed a bond with Eric that much like a little brother, strengthening his ties to his Auntie Shelia with much love and appreciation for family stepping up to support one another. Aiden was unconditionally loved by his family, every member being blessed and grateful for any time spent with him, forever to be wishing for even a single moment more.
Aiden’s love for his family would set the foundations for his commitment to his friendships into his adolescent years. As Aiden grew up, his friends became extremely important to him, and he considered his friends to be an extension of his family. At times, his loyalty led to actions that have been judged by others but his intentions behind those choices always came from a place of fierce love. Aiden’s friends loved him as much as he loved them; they got to see Aiden’s sweet natured, well intentioned, kind, caring and generously considerate side with his hilarious sense of humour, always able to make others laugh and feel included. Aiden would always answer the call of a friend who needed help or was seeking support. He believed in second chances; apologizing wrong doings and forgiving others for theirs, trusting in the new beginnings going forward. Aiden was in a new relationship with Jaelyn; they were discovering all the ups and downs of dating and being in love, creating memories and celebrating their monthly anniversaries with cute dates and meaningful activities. Aiden had recently taken an interest in painting, and they had planned to paint a picture together on their next anniversary date; Jae bravely painted a picture in memory of Aiden.
Aiden was creative and confident from the moment he discovered his surroundings. His intelligence led to a wide variety of interests, with many of them fading out quickly, but his love of music was deeply rooted in his self expression. He was very connected to his writings and spent much of his time creating music with many of his friends. Aiden had the amazing memory with the ability to recall details and information about any car ever made. Aiden was a very active child who would try anything that involved physical activity outside and found many sports that he enjoyed but he gravitated towards scooters above all others. He developed impressive skills over the years as he worked hard at his tricks, always pushed himself to improve and advance, often making compilation videos and taking pictures with his friends and brother Shawn. Aiden loved the summer and spending time outside with his friends and girlfriend, playing basketball, swimming, and scootering around to their favorite hang out spots. Aiden did not know he would die on the same street he grew up playing on at the age of 19. He was tragically the victim of violence, ending his young life brutally, traumatically changing the lives of everyone caught in the ripple effect.
Aiden’s teenage years were full of lessons learnt and struggles related to mental health and emotional traumas; born with ADHD, developing depression and anxiety from bullying at school and on social media, resulting in PTSD. Aiden acquired multiple concussions throughout his childhood, several very serious concussions within the year prior to his death, which compounded his mental health struggles. The week before he died, he recognized the need to address his issues and requested counselling and resources to focus on his mental and emotional well being to have healthier relationships with his family, friends, and girlfriend.
Aiden was confident as he left the doctor’s office, knowing he had the supports he needed in the works. Aiden had previously committed to addressing his anger and addiction issues that overwhelmed him at the onset of the pandemic. Aiden successfully completed the Youth Addiction treatment program at Sister Margret Smith Centre in 2021 and would encourage his friends to attend treatment when he found them to be struggling with substances. Aiden was actively involved with Kairos Community Resources Centre and over the five years, he had 2 very influential social workers who helped and supported Aiden as he set goals, acquiring many achievements in school and employment skills that boosted his confidence to push himself farther each semester at the Attendance Centre. Aiden had a job interview and was given the position the day he died; his report card was delivered a few days after his death, which showed the evidence of his hard work with high marks and efforts towards success, only needing one more semester of credits to acquire his high school diploma. Aiden was determined to have a better future as he was planning to move to Calgary, AB with his mom for a fresh start and new opportunities. Aiden was making progress with the support of the many people who love him and knew the potential within this young man.
Aiden’s family and friends are forever at a loss with him gone, but never forgotten. Aiden left memorable moments everywhere he went with his laugh, beautiful smile, constant jokes, singing and dancing. Aiden was very affectionate and wasn’t shy about saying “I love you” because he always meant it.
Aiden was extremely close with and protective of his mother, and he loved his Nana fiercely and adored his Papa Mark and Papa John. Aiden had special bonds with his uncles Kyle and James, always aspiring to grow up to be just like them; a strong, independent, and confident man who takes care of his family and friends. Aiden regarded his aunties with much love and respect. Aiden was the oldest of the grandchildren and always took this role seriously, being protective of his cousins and had a huge sense of pride when he was able to teach the younger kids new tricks in video games or sports activities. Aiden grew up with pets all his life and this attributed to his empathic and nurturing nature. When his own cat, C.C. , who was 14yrs old when she became sick earlier this year, Aiden was heartbroken to have to say goodbye, thanking her for giving him so much love throughout his life. They are now reunited on the other side, loving each other once again. His dogs, Oddum and Winter, can often be seen searching for him or sniffing out his belongings for comfort. Aiden had a bond with one of the four cats, Crabman, that was heartwarming to witness; they could often be found cuddling together while sleeping or in the rocking chair having the cutest conversations. A sense of sadness can be felt as Crabman sits and stares at the front door, waiting for him to come home. The house is empty and quiet without Aiden’s presence to fill the home with his voice and laughter, his scents and messes, his love and affections… He is missed immensely everyday.
Aiden is preceded by his Great Grandma Frances and Grandpa Clifford Cunningham, Great Grandma Marguerite and Grandpa Gil Nephin, Great Grandpa Roger Degagne, and his father Jared Nephin. Survived by his Mom Ashley Cunningham, Nana Shelley DeGagne, Papa Mark DeGagne, Papa John Nephin, Great Grandma Doris DeGagne, Grandmother Ellen Zimmerman, Great Grandma Iris Zimmerman, Dad James Plourde, Uncles; Kyle Cunningham (Calynn), James Marlowe Cunningham (Denise), Brent Degagne (Vanessa), Brad Degagne (Megan), Mathew Degagne (Sheri), Joe Thomas, Joe McGee, Pascal Brouillette, Aunts; Christy Degagne (Jordan), Cheyanne DeGagne (Jason), Rebekah Del Zotto, Kelly Caccamo, Siblings; Harlee Nephin, Hope Nephin, Shawn Plourde, Jay Plourde, Katelyn Plourde; and Girlfriend Jaelynn Levert.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, August 25, at 2:00 p.m., at Sargent & Son Funeral Chapel.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.sargentandson.com.