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Humanitarian worker who died in Gaza remembered as ‘Canadian hero’

Click to play video: 'Funeral held for former Canadian veteran and World Central Kitchen humanitarian worker Jacob Flickinger'
Funeral held for former Canadian veteran and World Central Kitchen humanitarian worker Jacob Flickinger
WHATCH: It was a somber occasion as family, friends and Canadian veterans held a funeral for a Quebecer killed in Gaza. Jacob Flickinger, 33, was one of seven people who died in an air strike while providing humanitarian aid in April. Global's Franca Mignacca reports – Apr 19, 2024

Family and friends of Jacob Flickinger gathered in St-Georges-de-Beauce, Que., on Friday for a final farewell to a man who is being remembered as a hero.

John Flickinger, Jacob’s father, led the procession to the sound of bagpipes to the same church where Jacob was baptized.

Jacob was 33, and a new father to son Jasper with his partner Sandy Leclerc, when he was killed during a humanitarian mission in Gaza at the beginning of the month.

He was one of seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen who died during a series of Israeli airstrikes while trying to deliver food.

Click to play video: 'Quebec family mourns death of son in Gaza and condemns Israeli airstrike'
Quebec family mourns death of son in Gaza and condemns Israeli airstrike

His brothers in arms, who served with him in the Canadian military in Afghanistan, describe him as “passionate, adventurous, disciplined and strong.”

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“He was probably the strongest person I ever met in my life,” said Mike Lizotte, adding that Jacob was never one to make excuses for himself.

Shortly after their son’s death, John Flickinger and Sylvie Labrecque expressed their belief the attack on the aid convoy was targeted.

Yann, a fellow veteran whose last name Global News agreed not to use, said he didn’t want to politicize Jacob’s death but is hoping for answers someday as to how it happened.

In the meantime, he wants to honour his memory and sacrifices.

“He went there and gave his best and helped people like a Canadian hero,” Yann said.

A feeling of emptiness still lingers for those who knew Jacob.

“Even though I have friends and family, a part of me is gone now,” Lizotte said. “But it’s my duty to keep sharing the lessons that Jacob taught me.”

Click to play video: 'Remembering the 7 World Central Kitchen workers killed by Israel in Gaza'
Remembering the 7 World Central Kitchen workers killed by Israel in Gaza

Among those lessons was how to become the best version of yourself as a human being.

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That’s knowledge he hopes to one day impart to Jacob’s 18-month-old son Jasper.

Lizotte hopes to be there to watch him grow up and keep Jacob’s memory alive.

“I would love to teach everything Jacob taught me to his son,” Lizotte said.

Not everyone in attendance at Friday’s ceremony knew Jacob personally, but he’d touched their lives nonetheless — including a group from the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City.

One of them, Université Laval Prof. Zakaria Helles, said he still has family in Rafah and he’s grateful for Jacob’s courage.

“The spirit and soul of Jacob has not gone in vain. It was very, very valuable and has made a change,” he said.

Jacob, who held dual Canadian-American citizenship, will be honoured at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., next week.

— With files from Global News’ Felicia Parrillo

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