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

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

President of the West Coast Fine Arts Show, Brian Croft, said pandemic restrictions necessitated a shift to an entirely online event this year, running until April 30. (File photo)
The West Fine Art Show shifts to an online-only event amid tighter health orders

Website version retains the flavour of the annual live exhibition

A vaccine-filled needle awaits injection, during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic held Jan. 15, 2021 at Amica White Rock. Community Living B.C.-funded workers learned April 8 that they, too, can now be vaccinated. (Tracy Holmes file photo)
Support workers for those with disabilities given vaccine priority

News shared with Community Living B.C.-funded staff on April 8

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Attorney General covers housing, homelessness and justice reform in Surrey Zoom

‘I think it would be really great to hold some sessions in Surrey,’ Eby says of legislative assembly

Scott Wheatley stands with the main Kenyan and Ugandan umpiring crew that he trained at the Nakirebe Complex outside of Kampala in 2020. Wheatley, a member-at-large with Softball B.C. is supporting a recent open letter from the sporting body that calls on the government to reinstate gameplay for kids in organized sports. (Photo: Submitted)
Softball B.C. urges provincial health officer to lift ban on gameplay for kids in organized sports

Sporting body sent open letter to both Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed on April 4, according to a statement from police. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police name victim following city’s fourth homicide of 2021

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed Sunday in the Downtown Eastside

Sunset Manor, an assisted living facility in Chilliwack owned by the Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, pictured here in October 2020, had its third COVID-19 outbreak declared on April 9, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
3rd COVID outbreak at care home run by Chilliwack church known for opposing vaccinations

30-bed Sunset Manor owned and operated by Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks players ‘mostly on the other side’ of COVID outbreak: general manager

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized

Police are investigating after a man was shot Thursday, April 8 while sitting in a car in Vancouver. (Black Press files)
Man shot in Vancouver while sitting in a parked car: police

The victim is currently in critical condition. Police say no arrests have been made.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP is seeking public tips regarding a break-in that left multiple people injured in Vernon Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Cariboo teacher charged in child exploitation case

Charge laid against teacher at Peter Skene Ogden

Most Read