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Virginia Tech teacher remembered as loving, passionate

Last Updated: Friday, April 20, 2007 | 6:07 PM AT

Hundreds of friends, family and even strangers gathered in Truro, N.S., Friday to remember Jocelyne Couture-Nowak.

"We are here to celebrate life, not death," said Peter Sanger, the French instructor's former boss at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. "If we cannot celebrate life today, then the poor, angry, sad mammet who murdered Jocelyne will have won."

Lilianne Couture talks about her sister, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, at a memorial service at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro, N.S., on Friday. Couture-Nowak was killed in the Virginia Tech slayings on Monday.Lilianne Couture talks about her sister, Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, at a memorial service at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro, N.S., on Friday. Couture-Nowak was killed in the Virginia Tech slayings on Monday.
(Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Couture-Nowak was one of the 32 people gunned down Monday at Virginia Tech. She was a French instructor there, while her husband, Jerzy Nowak, taught horticulture.

Before moving to Virginia in 2001, the couple lived in Truro for more than a decade, and left a big mark on the central Nova Scotia community.

The choir of elementary school students singing at Friday's memorial was from the French school she helped establish, École acadienne de Truro.

The students sang a song about making the most out of life, which was exactly the way Couture-Nowak savoured life, said her friend, Brenda Putnam.

"We remember that Jocelyne was a lover of chocolate, of children, of flowers," Putnam told the crowd.

Couture-Nowak steadfast against violence

Longtime neighbour Kim Dale recalled a woman steadfast in her convictions and fervently against violence, even once arguing with her husband about hockey.

"Violence in hockey seems to be overstated now, when you compare it to what she faced on Monday," Dale said.

"Now on Friday, there are no real answers, and we will have our lifetimes to remember, no matter how long or short, a beautiful woman, devoted wife, loving mother, caring neighbour. She'll live in my heart until it beats no more."

The outpouring of love for Couture-Nowak and her family is helping those who knew her best.

"I knew that my sister had many friends here in Truro, but we were overwhelmed by the showing of love and affection from people from all over Canada," said Lilianne Couture, Jocelyne's younger sister.

The Nova Scotia Agricultural College is setting up a bursary in Couture-Nowak's name.

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