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

Vancouver Island school principal mourns family 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 informed him that 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,” Jelks said.

There are no details on the identity of the shooters. The only details known to the family are that the shooters 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 saw protests spring up across the US 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 has said he doubts if he’ll ever step foot on US soil again. When Jelks does cross into the US, he said 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 US. There’s a sense of instability. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, which I don’t do here,” he said.

Here in Canada, Jelks works tirelessly to support youth as an educator in Ladysmith, and a football coach for the Victoria Spartans. He said 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. The GoFundMe had a goal of $5,000 – as of 3:00 pm 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

Saanich Fire Department investigating early morning fire at elementary school

Fire crews remain on scene at Strawberry Vale Elementary school

Sidney’s Star Cinema looks to reel in audience with reopening

It’s lights, camera, action — again — for Sidney’s Star Cinema in… Continue reading

Saanich councillors scurry to ban rat poisons on municipal properties

A ‘small but important first step’ to protect local wildlife, councillor says

No swimming or skating at Juan de Fuca rec centre for now

The Q Centre to reopen starting on July 13

Unemployment surpasses historic high in Greater Victoria, tourism hit hard

Hospitality and tourism sectors hurting as pandemic continues

VIDEO: Langford cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Most Read