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

Just Posted

Police probe reports that fire alarm didn’t sound during fatal Prince George motel blaze

A suspect was also arrested, but later released pending further investigation

Finding freedom in expression through painting

Vanderhoof painter talks about her love for painting and the difficult questions artists are faced with.

District and Airport development society in disagreement over new apron

User group says there are safety hazards, and the district of Vanderhoof says otherwise.

Vanderhoof will have its own cannabis store Tuesday

This is the 18th government-run store to open in the province.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read