For Scott Jones, forgiveness comes easier than one might think.
"When you have that love around you and you consider someone who hasn't had that love around him at all, his whole life, I think it's pretty easy to arrive at forgiveness," he said.
On Thursday, Shane Edward Matheson was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stabbing Jones and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down in an attack outside a New Glasgow club in October.
Matheson was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace following the Oct. 12 attack. The 20-year-old Trenton man pleaded guilty in March.
Jones read a victim impact statement in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday and said he forgave Matheson for leaving him a paraplegic.
"Shane, nothing can justify what you've done to me, but I forgive you for what you have done," Jones said.
Some in the gallery began to weep at that statement.
Matheson apologized to Jones and said, "I'm sorry I put you in that chair. I don't know why I did it. I'm sorry."
Jones said the stabbing and paralysis have affected all of his passions. The 28-year-old said he can no longer swim, visit the beach or walk through the forest.
Jones' sister, Sherise, is relieved the justice process is complete.
"It's great for all of us and especially for Scott to have some closure," she said. "He's been so amazing. He's sort of embraced a new life."
The prosecutor in the case echoed her sentiments.
"The real story today that impressed me was the courage and inner strength of Scott Jones," said Jody McNeill. "I'm really impressed with the manner in which he's approached this whole matter."
Justice Nick Scaravelli, who handed down the sentence in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in Pictou on Thursday, said Matheson's 10-year sentence could have been longer but he took Matheson's age into consideration.
He will receive 365 days credit for time served.
- Scott Jones says he was attacked for being gay
- Shane Edward Matheson pleads guilty to stabbing Scott Jones
Jones, who was stabbed in the back and slashed in the throat, believes he was attacked because he is gay.
Matheson's grandmother, Karen MacDougall, said homophobia would be enough of a reason to provoke her grandson to violence.
"If he had made a pass at Shane or something, Shane would flip right out," she said. "Because I know."
The injury to Jones's throat was superficial, but the stabbing severed his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic.
His attack led to an outpouring of support from friends and strangers across Canada. As he recovered from his injuries, Jones launched Don't Be Afraid, a campaign to combat homophobia.
Police haven't called it a hate crime, but Jones and many of his friends have said they believe he was attacked because he is openly gay.