The family of a Concordia University student killed last year in Montreal says they hope Jun Lin's life as a compassionate, outgoing man will eventually overshadow his horrific death.
Lin's family tearfully and publicly shared memories of their son and brother today as their way of marking China's annual day to honour deceased family members.
"He was a person who really liked to help people," Lin's mother, Du Zhigui, said through a translator while poring over photographs of her son as a wide-eyed toddler, as a smiling teenager and as a care-free young man.
"He was very enthusiastic person and he liked people. He liked life and we used to be a very happy family."
The QingMing Festival, known in English as Tomb-Sweeping Day, takes place annually at the beginning of April. Lin's family cited the day as the reason for their decision to talk publicly about his life.
Mother says son's death is hard to accept
The family is still struggling to endure the preliminary hearing of Luka Magnotta, who is charged with first-degree murder in Lin's slaying. The hearing, currently underway in Montreal, continues to attract mass international media attention.
His mother has largely avoided the media and the courthouse. However, this week she decided to open up about her son to ensure his memory wasn't lost in the tidal wave of interest surrounding his death.
Speaking quietly, Lin's mother said despite the time that has passed since her son's death last May, her wounds of loss have not begun to heal.
"It was so painful that it would never go away so it was very hard for me to accept what happened," she said.
Lin, who grew up in China, was a "lovely" child, his mother recalled. She talked about his outgoing nature and his excitement over volunteering at the Olympics in Bejing, shortly before he moved to Montreal.
Family thanks public for its support
His father, who has attended Magnotta's preliminary hearing, said he still struggles with the details of what happened to his son.
"When I went to the court, I was very, very upset," Lin Diran said. "I would like to know what really happened. It's very important for me to participate in the preliminary hearing and also the trial."
Lin said he believes that the real story of his son's life will come out and he trusts the Canadian justice system.
Lin's family came to Canada shortly after his death. His father said many people reached out to the family through phone calls, by making them feel welcome and by donating money to help cover living expenses.
"I want to thank all the Canadians that have helped us," he said.
A law firm working with the family is setting up a foundation in his name as well as a fund to help the family with living expenses while they are staying in Canada. The specifics of those funds have not yet been confirmed.