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Family and friends remember Jonathan Bruce

A new bench was unveiled in Fort St. John’s north end Saturday to honour the life of Jonathan Bruce. Bruce's body was found Nov. 24, 2013 near the city's motocross track.

A new bench was unveiled in Fort St. John’s north end Saturday to honour the life of  Jonathan Bruce.

Bruce's  body was  found Nov. 24, 2013 near the city's motocross track. What happened in his last few hours remains unclear, but police have been treating it as a homicide.

On Saturday, a few dozen of  Jonathan's friends and family gathered near the bench to mark its official unveiling.

Placed along a walking path near Northern Lights College, the bench was the idea of one of Bruce's school friends to honour his life.

RCMP Sgt. Steve Perret, the lead investigator into Bruce's death, said the case remains open.

“We know there’s people out there that know what happened to Jonathan Bruce, and those people know people, and those people know people,” he said to the crowd. “If you do know anything, please come forward ... our investigation is only as good as the information that comes in.”

Perret later handed out business cards to those at the ceremony in an attempt to gather information.

Bruce’s family is still dealing with Jonathan's absence.

“It’s probably the biggest missing link in the family as it was,” said his grandfather, Tom Bernicot. “I could lose myself, and I wouldn’t be missed as much as he was, because of his personality alone. He was so outgoing, and when he wasn’t there, it was twiddling your thumbs time, because there wasn’t much going on.

“Jonathan brought a lot of joy to all of us,” Bernicot added. “He always had an impact on other people.”

He described his grandson as a “high-energy boy.”

“He loved mechanics,” he said. “When he was about 12, he knew as much about cars as most people that are twice his age.”

This love of mechanics was reflected in the bench's plaque, which has a drawing of a wrench. It also included a quote, “Braaap!” — which Bernicot said Bruce would yell when he would go out mini-biking or quadding with his father.

Bruce was remembered fondly by his friends, including Talon Kidnei.

“A lot of people saw Jonathan as a best friend, but I definitely did too,” he said. “He’s the greatest friend I ever had.”

Kidnei described him as someone who would “give you the shirt off his back,” and Jonathan helped him realize a lot of things about himself.

Talon, with the help of North Peace Secondary School student support worker Dillon Lazaroff, came up with the idea to fundraise for the memorial bench.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help raise $1,700 for the plaque and bench. It only took 11 hours to reach their goal.

Kidnei’s efforts did not go unappreciated by Bruce’s family.

“The world needs more people like you,” said Bernicot. “He’s a hero, that young fella.”

Kidnei asked people to come forward with any information to police.

“If anyone has any information whatsoever, it’s time to give it up,” he said.                                                                   

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