Community members reflect on life of Ryerson journalism student ‘Oli’ Dundas

In Campus News, News1 Comment

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Edward Djan

Family, friends, classmates and faculty members are mourning the loss of Ryerson journalism student Olivier Dundas. He died the night of Jan. 8 at the age of 20 after being fatally shot in the area of Church and Bloor streets.

Dundas is remembered by those who knew him as an outgoing, kind person with a strong passion for sports. Many who interacted with Dundas knew him simply as ‘Oli.’

Annie Bergeron, Dundas’ mother and a Ryerson interior design alumna, said his passion for sports started at a young age.

“Oli’s nickname was ‘olithegoalie,’ Bergeron said. “We put him in hockey camp, and he took to it like a fish to water. He then started to play house league at Moss Park.”

When Dundas’ team required every player to try out to be goalie, Bergeron said he initially wasn’t sure if he wanted to be in the position. Dundas didn’t have a lot of practice on ice as a goalie which made him apprehensive. Despite his worry, he still tried out for the position and ended up enjoying it.

“When he was coming off the ice, I remember I opened the door for him. He looked at me and said, ‘I want to be a goalie,’ after one game,” she said. Bergeron believes it was the time he spent as a goalie while playing living room hockey with his best friend that prepared him to play the position for years.

“He was born at St. Michael’s Hospital, where he also passed away. He was just an all-in-all Toronto kid and very proud of his roots”

Throughout his nearly decade-long run as a goalie, Dundas won several minor hockey championships, including when he played competitive ‘A’ hockey in the Greater Toronto Hockey League.

When he wasn’t playing hockey, Dundas spent his summers at camp with the YMCA where his favourite themed week was sports week. As a teen, he also developed a love for basketball, where he became an ardent fan of both the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs. His love for both Toronto teams went beyond sports, extending to the city.

“He loved Toronto. This was his home.  He had such hometown pride, any artists that came out of here, any sports teams,” Bergeron said. “He was born at St. Michael’s Hospital, where he also passed away. He was just an all-in-all Toronto kid and very proud of his roots.”

His ability to communicate with others early in life regardless of the medium was what led Dundas to extend his roots at the School of Journalism. “He was a very natural presenter. He was always the kid that was picked to be either the emcee or to have bigger speaking parts in middle school plays because he was really comfortable in front of an audience from a very, very young age,” said Bergeron.

“He also always enjoyed writing, from a very young age. He loved Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He would make up his own pretend Diaries-of-a-Wimpy Kid, replicating the cartoon style of these books and then writing his own little adventures. He had a passion for chronicling events.”

One of Dundas’ first journalism instructors, Kevin MacLean, remembered his drive to always better his work. “He was eager to develop, improve and polish his skills to be a young journalist.”

Another thing that stood out to MacLean was his personality. “When I first met him, it wasn’t Olivier, it was just Oli. He was laid back, not pretentious and just a friendly guy,” MacLean said. “He was always happy.”

“He truly was a really happy person. There wasn’t a single time where I’d see him where he would be upset or feeling under the weather”

Curtis Martin, a third-year journalism student and friend of Dundas’ said despite his humour, he still had a strong work ethic.

“If you were down in the dumps because of something that’s going on at school, he would come over to you and make you laugh,” Martin said. “He was such a funny guy, but also was driven at what he wanted to do and what his goals were.”

Dundas was one of the founding members that created student-run publication Over The Line Sports. Martin said when he first had the idea for the site it was Oli’s support that helped get it up and running.

“A lot of people didn’t say yes. He was one of those people that had faith,” Martin said. “Having that support behind you, helped us propel Over The Line Sports forward.”

Andrew Yang, another friend and third-year journalism student who also worked with Dundas to kickstart the site, said his dedication to his work along with his positive personality helped the team during its early stages.

“He truly was a really happy person. There wasn’t a single time where I’d see him where he would be upset or feeling under the weather,” Yang said. “He was always like a motivator. He understood when work needed to be done and he got it done. And then after that, he would just be that morale booster for the team.”

Aru Kaul, another third-year journalism student, shared the same lab with Dundas in her first-year multimedia news reporting course. She said it was his personality that helped get her through the class. 

“He was a very sweet guy. I remember there was this one assignment where I wanted to quit. I just had enough, and he was the one who encouraged me and helped me pull through,” said Kaul.

“He was so dedicated to listening to others”

The School of Journalism released a statement following Dundas’ death that said the community “has been heartbroken by the news of Oli Dundas’ sudden death this past weekend. Oli is being fondly remembered by his classmates and instructors for his kindness, sense of humour and ready smile—and for his cat, who made surprise appearances on Zoom.”

Toronto Police initially asked the public’s help in identifying three suspects following Dundas’ death.

Police arrested and charged 22-year-old James Galinato on Jan. 9 with second-degree murder in connection with Dundas’ death. The following day, 22-year-old Jay-Ar Carbonel and 23-year-old Jessie Boy Baig turned themselves in and were also charged with second-degree murder in relation to the case.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Bergeron said CAMH was picked to honour the empathy Dundas showed to others.

“We feel mental health is a very important issue. I think there’s a lot of very distraught people during these COVID times. He was so dedicated to listening to others, we felt that this would be a fitting tribute to his life.”

While a date has not been set, the family is hoping to hold a funeral to allow those who knew Dundas to pay their respects. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover funeral costs.

The School of Journalism is reminding students of counselling services available through the Centre for Student Development and Counselling.

Comments

  1. We are so sorry to hear of this tragic news of the loss of dear friends, Nephew Oli. Such a sad ending to a promising young mans future. He sounds like a great, smart and caring guy. Our hearts go out to his parents and relatives at this very difficult time. Sincerely Billie Jo and Bill

Leave a Comment