Nova Scotia

Foul play suspected in N.S. man's death in Belize, sister says

Local media in Belize say Jim Slemp's body was found in a lagoon not too far from his home in Hopkins Village, which is more than 100 kilometres southeast of Belize's capital, Belmopan. He was 79.

Jim Slemp's sister says he had discouraged her from visiting 'because it was too dangerous'

Jim Slemp was a 79-year-old Nova Scotia man who was found dead in Belize on Monday. (Kathye Lacoursiere)

The sister of a 79-year-old Nova Scotia man who was found dead in Belize on Monday says she was told foul play was suspected.

According to local media in Belize, Jim Slemp's body was found in a lagoon near his home in Hopkins Village three days after he went missing. Hopkins Village is located more than 100 kilometres southeast of Belize's capital, Belmopan.

His sister, Kathye Lacoursiere, told CBC News in an phone interview from her home in Red Deer, Alta., one of her brother's godsons told her on Friday that Slemp was missing.

She heard about her brother's death on Monday through one of Slemp's friends. She said she was also notified by the Canadian consulate.

"All I had known from down south is that they definitely knew there was foul play ... but they didn't say what," Lacoursiere said.

'He loved life'

She said her brother, who was a former school teacher, was a kind, gentle person.

"We were raised on a farm and he just loved life and loved people. He was a people helper. If somebody needed help, he was right there," Lacoursiere said.

"He was one of the best brothers you could ask for and I know he was a wonderful son to our parents. He was with them both at their end. Just a wonderful man."

Slemp is originally from Alberta, but moved to Nova Scotia in the mid-1980s to farm blueberries, his sister said.

Lacoursiere said her brother would spend most of his winters in Belize.

'He really loved it there'

"He was a severe arthritic, so the weather was wonderful for him. So he bought a little plot of land and built a few cabins and he really loved it there," she said.

When she learned of her brother's death, she said she couldn't believe it.

"Shock, disbelief, my gosh — how could that happen to somebody, anybody? Just shock, I'm still in shock," she said.

Lacoursiere said her brother had discouraged her from coming to Belize.

"We wanted to go and he told us not to come because it was too dangerous. So something alerted him that it was just unsafe, so we didn't go and I'm sorry in one way and I'm glad in another way," she said.

Lacoursiere said his remains will be laid to rest in Belize because that was his wish.

Memorial service in Alberta

A memorial for her brother will be held in Alberta sometime in early summer.

Police in Belize did not respond to CBC's request for an interview on Wednesday.

Global Affairs Canada told CBC in an email it was aware of a Canadian's death in Belize and offered condolences.

"Consular officials in Belize are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information. Consular officials stand ready to provide assistance to the relatives of the deceased," a spokesperson wrote.

"Due to the provisions of the Privacy Act, no further information can be disclosed."

With files from Alex Cooke