Manitoba

Man found dead in Virden, Man., remembered by family as easygoing, hard-working

Members of the Canupawakpa Dakota Nation in western Manitoba are mourning the death of a man they say was easygoing and who loved hockey and baseball.

Clarence Eastman Junior, 31, was found fatally injured on Saturday

Clarence Eastman Jr., 31, was found fatally injured at a home in Virden on Saturday, RCMP say. (Submitted by family )

Members of the Canupawakpa Dakota Nation in western Manitoba are mourning the death of a man they say was easygoing and who loved hockey and baseball.

Family members told CBC News on Wednesday that Clarence Eastman Jr., 31, was found fatally injured at a home in Virden, Man., on Saturday afternoon. 

RCMP are treating Eastman's death as a homicide. 

"We're a close-knit community. We all know each other," said Viola Eastman, Clarence's aunt and chief of the First Nation south of Virden, about 275 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. His immediate family is in shock and disbelief, she said.

"It's just really hard right now. I think we need time to mourn and grieve and to get some healing." 

Eastman said her nephew, who was known as JR, was a father of three who was working in Virden. She hadn't learned any new details about the investigation from the RCMP as of Wednesday morning.

"He was really an easygoing young man," Eastman said. "He liked to have fun and laugh and tease. That's how I'm going to remember him … a hard worker as well."

Many of Clarence's family and friends learned of his death while attending a powwow in Sioux Valley Dakota Nation on Saturday evening, she said. 

Eastman's aunt, Viola Eastman, says he was an easygoing man and a father of three. (Submitted by family )

His death happened just two weeks after another community member, a 42-year-old man, died in a car crash on Highway 83, Eastman said; around eight members of the community of about 300 have died in the last year. 

"They're young and it's impacted the whole community," she said, and a powwow that was planned for the beginning of August has been cancelled to give people time to mourn. 

"We're planning something in September instead to bring the community together to have some healing and some prayers, or some prayers or something to keep us strong and keep us going," Eastman said. 

RCMP said Tuesday that Clarence had injuries that indicated he had been in some sort of physical altercation. The investigation into his death continues.