Loved ones, community mourn loss of man dedicated to helping less fortunate

Sean Sousa dedicated his life to helping people around him and bettering his community. Now, many in Winnipeg are mourning his loss following a tragic drowning incident in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. Morgan Modjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

People across Winnipeg are mourning a man who dedicated himself to helping the less fortunate and improving the lives of others.

Sean Sousa, 33, passed away this week after drowning while swimming at Pine Point Rapids in the Whiteshell Provincial Park.

His partner Beverley Smith says the loss has been devastating.

“Sean was just this driven person who wanted to help and see the best for people,” said Smith. “He just wanted everyone to be happy. He was always there at a moment’s notice if anyone needed him.

“It feels like it’s been 20 years that we’ve been together, but in the best possible way, absolutely. He was an amazing man.”

RCMP say Sousa was sliding down the falls when he entered a deeper part of the water and began struggling. He then went under and did not resurface.

A bystander jumped in to help but could not reach him in time. His body was recovered the next day.

Sousa was mentoring a child at the time as part of his work with not-for-profit organization Main Street Project.

His death has left what his family says is a massive gap in their lives and the city on a whole.

“He was just the most amazing, patient man in the whole entire world and he left us way too soon,” said Smith.

Smith says Sousa will be remembered as a kind-hearted and loving person.

“As sweet and amazing and great that he was in public out for everybody, it was the exact same – plus – behind closed doors. We lived together and I’ve never been so loved and so cared for. Him and I are just soulmates.”

Dedicated to Winnipeg’s less fortunate

Sousa is being remembered as a pillar of the Winnipeg community, someone who was extremely dedicated to his work and the people around him.

“Sean was a pioneer in our community and knew everyone who was living in an encampment in our city,” Main Street Project wrote in a Facebook post. “He gave his heart, his mind and his soul to this craft. He’s positively affected so many lives and continues to do so in his passing.

“MSP was fortunate to have him as a leader and he will be greatly missed.”

Sousa was the van outreach manager at MSP and began working there in Sept. 2021.

“Sean was a leader at MSP and for our city. In his short lifetime, he helped so many in Winnipeg. Sean helped jumpstart the West End 24-hour safe space, led the gang action interagency network and worked with other outreach groups in Winnipeg.

“When a community loses such a thoughtful and positive person it leaves a hole that’s difficult to fill in. But because Sean was such a special human being, we envision the community coming together to mourn Sean and support those in our community.”

Alongside his work with the Main Street Project, Sousa was also leader of the gang action interagency network in Winnipeg, which aims at keeping young people out of gangs and offer support to those trying to leave.

Over the last few days, he has been honoured in several ways, including the lighting of sacred fires and a vigil held earlier this week.

For Smith, she says the death has been extremely hard, but she’s thankful for all the people who have come forward and offered her and Sousa’s family support as they mourn this incredible man and community hero.

“He was just a beautiful soul inside and out and it’s just amazing the amount of people who have reached out to me and friends and family,” she said. “There’s no words to describe how much, not only I appreciate, but I know Sean would have really appreciated it as well because this is the hardest thing I’d ever have to go through.”

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