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Cowichan windstorm victim died while checking on community’s homeless

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A young Cowichan Tribes mother killed when a tree fell on her tent during the Dec. 20 windstorm is being remembered as someone who put the lives of others before hers. Kristen Robinson reports – Dec 30, 2018

“We’re looking at a devastating loss.”

That’s how Cowichan Tribes’ Chief William Seymour describes the pre-Christmas tragedy that took the life of one of his young community members.

“The family is going to be hurting for a long time,” Seymour said.

As trees toppled during the height of the windstorm on Dec. 20, 2018, 28-year-old Melissa Brenda Joe left the safety of her parents’ Duncan home to visit her friends and relatives living in a homeless camp near Boys Road and the Trans Canada Highway.

“She’s constantly gone there to look at and check up on her friends and her relatives that are living there,” Seymour told Global News.

READ MORE: Man rescued from partially collapsed White Rock pier

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Joe, the mother of a young daughter, was killed when a tree came crashing down on the tent she was in. Five people were inside at the time and two men were also hurt – one of them airlifted to hospital.

“It’s important that word gets out that she wasn’t homeless,” Seymour said.

“We’re looking at somebody that’s got a big heart that is always looking out for other people.”

While raising her daughter, Joe found the time to volunteer at a local kitchen that feeds the hungry in the Cowichan Valley.

“It’s heartbreaking, especially at this time of the year,” Cowichan resident Bobbi Morris told Global News.

READ MORE: In pictures: Powerful December windstorm blasts B.C.’s south coast

“She was trying to do what she thought was right and it’s a real shame these things sometimes happen out of the blue and we don’t understand them.”

Seymour says his community of 4,900, plus Cowichan Tribes’ members, are now taking care of Joe’s daughter – who is said to be coping well despite the circumstances.

“She’s our child now…when you’re that young it’s hard to grasp as to what’s happened. At some point it’ll hit.”

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Joe is being remembered as someone who put the lives of others before her own.

“That’s the way we’d like to remember her as being outgoing and caring. I think everybody in the whole world should have that kind of attitude…we’d have a better home to live in,” said Seymour.

Coverage of the windstorm on Globalnews.ca

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