"Meskay nitap" are among the words that have been circulating in social media posts made by Bert Knockwood's loved ones since his death earlier this week.
It means "I'm sorry, my friend" in Mi'kmaq.
The 42-year-old man was found dead in a home in Millbrook, N.S., on July 12. Two days later, police ruled his death a homicide.
Knockwood was from Nova Scotia's Sipekne'katik First Nation and did not live an easy life.
He lost his mother and sister at a young age and his father, Doug Knockwood — a respected Mi'kmaw elder — struggled with the scars left from being forced to attend a residential school. His father died in 2018.
Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack issued a statement Thursday offering condolences to Knockwood's family.
"Our community is strong and we will support each other during this time as we continue to grapple with the effects of intergenerational trauma," Sack said in the statement.
'The biggest shock'
Eric McIntyre met Knockwood at a skatepark when he was 11 years old. Knockwood was 10.
"He progressed at it so fast and became an incredible skateboarder, and that's kind of a testimony to what Bert was like," said McIntyre. "Anything he ever applied himself to, he would focus on and become absolutely incredible."
McIntyre said despite Knockwood dealing with serious personal challenges, he always made the people around him feel special.
"He was a really charismatic and caring person who loved his friends and family. He had such a hard life, and went through so much loss, but he was just so strong," he said.
"We were all so happy he was doing well, and so this was the biggest shock."
Their relationship evolved into their teens, when they started a band together. McIntyre said that's how Knockwood got into turntables and became a DJ, later under the name DJ Shinook.
'Fast' on the crossfader
Brian Pelrine, also known as DJ IV, said Kockwood gave him his first set of turntables.
Pelrine is now the official DJ for hip hop artist Classified.
He was dating Knockwood's sister Maeann when she suddenly died in November 1999. Pelrine said grief brought him and Knockwood closer together.
"We eventually created our own crew and DJ'd together a lot in the early parts of our local upcoming," he said in an email.
"He taught me so much. I was always in awe of how fast he was and how he could manipulate the records and the crossfader so quickly."
Pelrine said Knockwood's death being ruled a homicide has shattered his heart.
"He was finally in a great spot. Bert has dealt with a lot of demons throughout his life, and for the first time it seemed as though he had found his happy place in life," he said.
"Nobody deserves to lose their life like this, especially not Bert Knockwood."
Perline said he finds comfort in knowing Knockwood is now at peace with his mom, sister and father.
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