Darius Jelks and Maurice Jelks were killed during protests in Chicago’s south side over the weekend (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island school principal mourns brother, cousin killed during U.S. protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Ladysmith Intermediate School principal Dionte Jelks received a life-changing phone call on Sunday.

As he walked along a beach with his wife Elizabeth, and sons Noe, Jeremy and Kian, Jelks got a call from his family in Chicago. His mother told him his brother, Darius Jelks and his cousin, Maurice Jelks, had been shot and killed during protests in Chicago.

Since the phone call, Jelks has gone through waves of grief.

“I don’t know how to feel. It’s different every other hour. Sometimes I’m emotional, sometimes I’m not. It’s been like being on a rollercoaster ride for the past few days.”

There are no details on the identity of the shooters. The only details known to the family are that the gunmen drove a dark-coloured SUV, and that the shooting occurred at 1:40 p.m. Chicago time.

Jelks said he was immediately worried for his family in Chicago when he saw protests spring up across the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police.

“I was worried, but I thought it would just be one day and that would be it, because there’s been so many senseless killings of unarmed black men for years,” Jelks said. “Usually, it’s a day of protests and it’s done. I guess when George Floyd was murdered it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“People are fed up now. It seems like this is it. We need change, we need reform, and we’re not going to wait until it’s my kid’s generation. We need it right now.”

Jelks doubts if he’ll ever step foot on U.S. soil again. When he does cross into the U.S., he feels ‘total unease.’

READ ALSO: George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure, says family autopsy

“As soon as I crossed the border, I knew. My body knew I was back in the U.S. There’s a sense of instability. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, which I don’t do here.”

In Canada, Jelks works tirelessly to support youth as an educator in Ladysmith, and a football coach for the Victoria Spartans. His form of protest against systemic racism and injustice is by mentoring youth.

“Any student I encounter, I tell them I’m always in their corner for the rest of their life. Use me as a vehicle to achieve your goals. I’m always going to be there. I’m there to assist you with funds, with motivational talks, anything you need. I always tell people that. That’s what I’m here for.”

April Gulley, a longtime friend of Jelks, set up a GoFundMe to support Jelks and his family. It had a goal of $5,000 – as of 3 p.m. on June 2, $8,470 has been raised.

“It’s beyond my wildest dreams. I’m a very reserved person. I don’t ask for anything. I always worked for what I needed, and managed to figure it out. April is just unbelievable. If you think about a person of service, a person who gives, that’s her,” Jelks said.

Jelks also expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support from Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools, (NLPS), and the community of Ladysmith.

“I want to really thank my NLPS family. They’ve been supportive throughout; it’s been incredible – the Ladysmith Intermediate School staff, the phone calls I’ve been receiving, the emails, the texts – it’s helped me a lot to get through my day,” he said.

“I’m grateful and very appreciative of the support, and the encouragement from the Ladysmith community. I couldn’t be in a better place.”

READ ALSO: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

Haze over Okanagan and Shuswap skies may have drifted from Siberia

Few active wildifres so far this summer in B.C.

Heavy rain in Okanagan results in slowest start to fire season in four years

119 hectares of land burned so far this year, compared to 991 ha in 2019, and 3,835 ha in 2018

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Province releases report on Columbia River Treaty public feedback

Reservoir levels, fair compensation for impacted communities, among many issues raised

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Bench plaque recognizes former Summerland firefighter

Volunteers with fire department set up plaque in honour of Richard Estabrooks

Okanagan Realtors donate big to North Westside fire department

Two Kelowna-area Realtors made a generous donation to the North Westside Fire… Continue reading

SilverStar security recovers stolen bike

Reminders to residents to keep bicycles locked up, eyes open for suspicious activity

‘Justice for Mona’ protests planned in Kelowna, Lower Mainland

Security camera footage shows Mona Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check

Orphaned Okanagan beavers admitted to rehab centre

The two beavers are in the care of the Fawcett Family Wildlife Health Centre

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s Okanagan murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

Kelowna neighbourhood pond dries up again

The RDCO filled up the pond on Hall Road but it’s drying up again

Most Read