In Memory: Jay Koornstra

Banner of Jay hanging in front of 251 Bank St.

Banner of Jay hanging in front of 251 Bank St. (Courtesy of the Village Legacy Project.)

Photo of Jay with his Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.
Photo of Jay with his Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.

Our friend and former executive director J. John (Jay) Koornstra passed away on July 19th after several weeks of illness, having made peace with the final journey of his life.

Jay was well known and respected in the HIV community. In addition to his many years with Bruce House, Jay served on the Board of Directors of the Ontario AIDS Network and was an Honour Roll Recipient.  He played a central role in the creation of the Positive Leadership Development Institute and was a strong voice for people living with HIV, never afraid to be outspoken and connected to his advocacy roots.

His leadership in Ottawa was recognized by The Village Legacy Project, who placed his image on a banner hanging on Bank St. in front of the Bruce House office (251 Bank), and included him on their documentary on the history of HIV in Ottawa.  In 2012 he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, awarded to outstanding citizens who have achieved excellence and demonstrated a commitment to the growth and prosperity of their community.  Capital Pride appointed him grand Marshall of the 2013 parade.

Jay was a mentor and guide to many.  We remember his warmth and generosity, as well as his quirks and eccentricities.

We grieve a man we all wanted to hug just one more time.


4 thoughts on “In Memory: Jay Koornstra

  1. Jay made the House a home and Ottawa a safe place for so many who faced fear and hatred.
    Thanks for your unwavering kindness and strength, Jay. Enjoy your rainbow.

  2. Ottawa and Canada has lost I icon and leader who inspired Manny people including myself to engage with the community and show love compassion and respect for every human being who ever crossed his path Jay was always there smiling and always listing to who ever had the privilege to cross his path rip .

  3. Jay will never be forgotten for his commitment and kindness to those who are surviving and living with HIV. I am a better person for having worked by his side during his tenure as ED with Bruce House. Thank you Jay and I wish I had a chance to hug you once more. Rest in Peace my friend.

  4. Big Jay, your dedication to the AIDS movement was a testament to the great goodness that can be done even after traumatic loss. You rose up out of your terrible suffering to lead the way. I will always love you.

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