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

Breast cancer screening available in Prince Rupert – ten days only

Mobile imaging suite will be in Prince Rupert from July 6 to 16

RCSCC 7 – Captain Cook is searching for new C.O.

Officer position will be vacant with CIC sailing away to different shores.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Solidarity movement displayed in city

Prince Rupert locals demonstrated against

Canada Day investigation by RCMP

Female was transported to hospital with head injuries in Prince Rupert

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read