Victoria man murdered in Thunder Bay, suspect arrested

Family, friends and members of the local hospitality community are mourning a Victoria man who was murdered in Thunder Bay last weekend.

On Saturday night about 10:20 p.m., Thunder Bay police found Paul Winnifred Vivier, 29, in medical distress at the Midtown Inn on Cumberland Street in that city. Police and paramedics performed first aid, but Vivier was pronounced dead in hospital.

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Denis Terry Bernard, 36, was arrested on Sunday and charged with second-degree murder. He remains at Thunder Bay District Jail.

In Victoria, Vivier’s long-time friend Adam Kenneth Reeve was saddened and stunned at the news of his friend’s murder. “I loved the hell out of him,” said Kenneth Reeve. “He was a very positive and happy person, giving, sharing, loving.”

Vivier went to Vic West Elementary, Rock Heights Middle School and South Island Distance Education and was in the Indigenous studies program at Camosun College.

He became a cook and was passionate about food. He worked at Ferris’ Upstairs seafood restaurant and oyster bar, Nautical Nellies and Maud Hunter’s Pub.

“When I got off work, I would go to Swans,” said Kenneth Reeve. “When he got off work, he would go to Swans and we’d talk about food and the industry. That’s how we really connected. He was also an avid reader and he wrote poetry. He loved the outdoors.

“He was also a great team builder, taking people under his wing. He was a gem.”

Vivier loved to travel throughout Canada, sometimes hopping on trains, sometimes hitchhiking, said his friend. Vivier spent several years in Haida Gwaii. He was Sekani First Nation and Metis and spent time travelling to the McLeod Lake Indian Band 150 kilometres north of Prince George to meet family and learn about his heritage, said cousin Vanessa Reno.

Reeve described Vivier as "very, very social. That’s how I fell in love with him — the industry and the people and the connection with food, too. And I liked to read, so we had a lot of talks about favourite authors. He kept a journal and he liked poetry.”

Recently, Vivier became engaged to Nashee Chapman in Thunder Bay.

Police are still in the early stages of their investigation and are hoping more witnesses will come forward to help, Det.-Insp. John Fennell said Tuesday.

“What we are hoping to be able to do is make sure that any witnesses that have information, as little as they may think it is, it could really be important to us and could really assist the investigation or at least verify the facts that we believe we know,” he said.

Bernard and Vivier were known to each other. Police believe neither men were guests of the motel and were visiting.

“There is definitely drug overtones to this investigation,” Fennell said.

A post-mortem for the victim was scheduled to take place on Monday. Due to the early stages of the investigation, police could not comment on the type of weapon potentially used or the types of injuries the victim suffered.

“We are still trying to make sure we confirm and ascertain the right weapon,” Fennell said. “With the forensics side of things, they are examining all the evidence and determining whether it had been involved or not.”

Police are also not ruling out the possibility of more charges or more suspects, Fennell added.

“Our appeal for witnesses still stands despite charges being laid — it’s imperative for us to be able to get the right information,” he said.

Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call police at 807-684-1200.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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