Lee Matasi's Birthday Celebration, Four Years After His Murder
Lee Matasi was killed on December 3rd of 2005, outside the Red Room Nightclub in Downtown Vancouver. He was killed because Dennis White decided to get wasted and go to the club with a gun. Lee had never met White, but when White was flaunting his gun, Lee told him that it wasn’t cool. The execution style murder occured shortly after Lee made this comment.
Despite fingerprints, over a dozen witnesses, and security camera footage, White received house arrest and didn’t get his full sixteen-year sentence until 2007.
December 27th 2009 would have been Lee Matasi’s 28th birthday. His friends gathered at the Astoria in East Vancouver to dance, listen to Wu-tang and eat birthday cake. It was a party that Lee would have loved.
My most prominent memories of Lee consist of his hugs and his comedy. He would pick me up and spin me around until I was laughing. If a party was boring, he made it fun. If a party was fun, he multiplied the fun. The light he represented also translated into actions that made Vancouver better.
Lee decided to start skateboarding when he was five and he decided to be a professional artist when he was six. When he got older, he built a skatepark called Leeside and attended art school. Lee's skatepark was created in a tunnel beneath the Cassiar Connector. When I went to skate at Leeside, Lee would take a break and give me lessons so that I could keep up with the swarm of more advanced skaters.
Leeside Tunnel was a gift to Lee’s community and it remains as his legacy. In recent days, Leeside has evolved and become a beautiful memorial skatepark. On December 11th, 2009, the Vancouver Park Board announced that Leeside has become a "Park Board Recreation Facility", which will be cared for by the Lee Matasi Stewardship Group. The collective effort that has gone into Leeside is summarized in a short film called “Tunnel Visions”.
I hope that Lee Matasi's name can continue to be a symbol of creativity and non-violence.