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‘I want justice for Johnny’: Loved ones remember ‘The Hug Guy’ dead in B.C. stabbing

Murder charge laid in Victoria’s first homicide of 2022

It’s been one month since John Dickinson died after being stabbed outside a downtown Victoria bar, and his family and friends grapple with their grief while waiting for answers.

Dickinson, 30, wasn’t the kind of person to pick a fight, they say.

“He would never look for confrontation or trouble,” long-time friend Matt Roulston said, speaking from Calgary. Dickinson was an extrovert and he would make his presence known, but only ever in a friendly way.

Roulston met Dickinson through mutual friends when they were 15 and growing up in Ontario.

“We just clicked,” he said. “He knew all the coolest places to go in Niagara – secret beaches, places where you could go pick peaches … We would just drive around and it was so fun.”

Stephen Hartley, who also met Dickinson in high school, has similar memories of long drives and adventures. It was Dickinson’s spontaneity that drew Hartley to him.

“He really took me out of my shell,” he said.

Hartley remembers one time when rain ruined their plans to go to a music festival in Wasaga Beach, so Dickinson convinced them to drive six-plus hours to Montreal instead.

Another time, at a different music festival, Dickinson made it his mission to hug every person who walked through the gate. To this day, people still know him as “The Hug Guy,” Hartley said.

He was also known as a “Yes Man.” It’s how he ended up moving to Victoria on a whim in the mid-2010s.

Jasmine Bauer, Dickinson’s older sister, said he was at a music festival in B.C. when attendees got pushed out by forest fires. Dickinson ended up spending the night in Vancouver, where he was mugged and had his belongings stolen.

Rolling with the punches as usual though, he reached out to extended family in Victoria and decided to live there for a while.

“He would turn any negative into a positive,” Bauer said from her home in Minnesota.

When she remembers the mugging now, she thinks about how devastated Dickinson was that somebody would treat a fellow human that way.

“He couldn’t believe someone would do that, so I just can’t imagine what was going through his head when he got stabbed,” she said.

It happened outside Lucky Bar on Yates Street in the early hours of March 1. Police were called to the area shortly before 1:30 a.m. and arrived to find a man suffering from life-threatening stab wounds.

Dickinson died in hospital later that day.

“It didn’t feel real at first,” Roulston said. “I was just waiting for his message to be like ‘What is all this nonsense, all these shenanigans people are talking about me being dead?’”

Slowly, it’s setting in though.

Plans Bauer had to hike a mountain with her brother have turned into plans to hike with her brother’s ashes. Plans Hartley had to fix up Dickinson’s 1975 Triumph Spitfire and drive it out from Ontario to visit him have turned into plans to take the trip alone.

“I thought there was time,” Hartley said.

Now, much of Dickinson’s loved ones’ time is spent wondering about the person who killed him.

“I want justice for Johnny,” Roulston said. “Whoever did this should be away for a long time.”

On Tuesday (March 29), Mohamed Daud Omar was charged with murder.

About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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