A close friend of the man whose body was found in the CIBC parking lot in Castlegar this month says he should be remembered as a hero.
Vista Radio reporter Justin Baumgardner spoke to one of Jean-Luc Levesque’s closest friends to find out what kind of man he was and who he wanted to be.
“I first met Jean-Luc 23 years ago when I came to Vancouver from Ontario,” says Helen Luskova. “He became like a brother to me, and a valued member of my family.”
She describes Levesque, 51, as someone who was community driven, passionate, dependable, generous, and caring to all who met him.
“He struggled with mental illness, but especially now, who doesn’t?”
“Jean-Luc, or Jelly as we called him, was a huge support for my son who struggled with addiction,” says Luskova. “I think he connected well with my son because of his own background and what he went through, there was just an instant connection.”
Luskova’s son passed away at the age of 18 from a toxic drug supply, but Levesque never stopped supporting her family through the difficult times.
“It just made our bond thicker and stronger.”
Luskova says Levesque wanted what was best for everyone. He was selfless and wore his heart on his sleeve and put everyone ahead of himself, she said, so others could have a life worth living.
“I think that was his biggest downfall, and what led him to lead the life he did.
“Jelly will always be remembered as a hero to me, and my family.”
A fire broke out in her house early one morning, caused by the radiator. Levesque alerted the entire family and got them to safety. After realizing there was a baby left inside the burning building he rushed back in, without considering his own safety, to save the infant.
“He would have done anything needed, regardless of danger, to ensure anyone was safe and secure and this is how he will be remembered by everyone who knew him.”
Luskova found out about Levesque’s death through a friend
“I am still in shocked over his death, but I am so grateful that I didn’t find out through social media.”
She had a conversation with Levesque just weeks before his death and he was turning his life around.
“He sounded very excited.
“He told me that he was doing well, he had a job lined up as a roofer and a place of his own all figured out.”
Levesque moved to Castlegar in search of a better life, she said. He gave up all his personal luxuries in order to finally do something for himself.
“It was hard for all of us to deal with when he told us he was leaving Vancouver, but we all supported his decision.
“He wanted to live a happy life, free of the toxicity that was in Vancouver, which is why he chose Castlegar. He just wanted a fresh start.”
Levesque posted on Facebook about his journey and that he was very excited to be moving forward with his life.
“It was a new adventure, a fresh start, he didn’t deserve for it to end like this.
“I just want to know that he didn’t die alone, and that he wasn’t afraid,” says an emotional Luskova. “He just wanted to be a productive member of society and give back.”
Luskova has yet to hear from any authorities regarding Levesque’s death, and while her family mourns the loss of such a close family friend she has many unanswered questions.
“I don’t know what the circumstances were around the incident,” says Luskova. “All I heard was that the woman he was staying with posted on social media saying he was beat up a few weeks before he died.”
Luskova isn’t sure whether this was a personal vendetta or if he just wasn’t welcome at the place he was living, but she is searching for answers.
“I want the stigma around homeless people erased,” says Luskova. “Jelly was loved, and just like many people who struggle they always have loved ones in their corner.”
She is also unsure of the name of the woman Levesque was staying with, but believes she owns a cottage or cabin in the local area.
“He was such a good and generous person, we love him and will cherish his memory.”
Luskova will be hosting a memorial concert in Vancouver to honour his memory. Donations for the event can be emailed VanCity OPS.
Police confirm Levesque was the victim of a homicide but have not revealed the cause of death. They say they don’t know the motive. His body was found around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 11.