In the days and weeks after Aaron’s passing, many friends have sent cards, flowers, messages to his family while more than 130 people attended his memorial despite the short notice and harsh weather. Some of them flew in from different cities of the United States while others watched the live streaming of his memorial from multiple continents. His family and the Aaron Chen Memorial Foundation would like to thank all the people for their messages and support. We put together some of the heartwarming messages for this virtual memorial. We have also created this page to invite other people who knew Aaron to share their feelings and memories about Aaron.
In his parents’ eyes, Aaron was a gentle, considerate, and forgiving child. There are so many things we remembered of him. For now, let us just share one small detail about his personality. Like all children and pre-teens, Aaron would have fits. He could sometimes get frustrated with us about something, and would say or do things that might be hurtful. As parents, we always understood that this was just a phase that he was going through, so we would never mind it much. Aaron, on the other hand, would always feel guilty afterwards. He would sometimes say “sorry”, but oftentimes, his apology would come in a different form. These were little things. He might sit nearby and glance over occasionally to see how I’m feeling, or he might start talking about something random with me to alleviate the tension. Aaron may not have known it at the time, but his small attempts at reconciling touched my heart in a way the word “sorry” never could.
What was he like in others’ eyes? We hope to talk with his friends, classmates, and teachers in the months to come, because we realized we really don’t know much about him as a school student – Was he friendly at school? How well did he blend in? What was he like in the classroom? What fun things did he like to do with his friends at recess? If you would like to share something about Aaron, please feel free to leave a message below or email us directly via the contact information listed on the front page of this Website.
Comments by Aaron’s Teachers
Memories shared by Ms. Lindsay Tessier, Aaron’s teacher for grades 3 and 4, and several other teachers including Ms. Cherie Ling, and Ms. Florea, Mr. Skicos, and Mrs. Condello at his memorial, January 21, 2023.
My name is Lyndsay Tessier, this is Cherie Ling and Stephanie Belanger. We were Aaron’s teachers during his time at Bridlewood and we have the honour of speaking on behalf of Aaron’s Bridlewood family. We wanted to share glimpses and cherished memories we treasure of the Aaron we knew who quietly, but profoundly walked through our halls, classrooms and hearts. We hope to do justice to the remarkable spirit that Aaron was.
From his very first year at Bridlewood, we recognized that Aaron was special. His junior kindergarten teacher Mrs. Monte had this to say about him: I remember Aaron as an inquisitive and curious child. I recall being amazed at how bright and intelligent he was. He loved to read books and was always the first one to try new centre experiences. He especially loved our science experiments.
Ms. Florea taught Aaron in grade 1 and has fond memories of his talents and gifts, which included sharp skills in math. She said he absolutely loved and excelled in math. Aaron had a curious nature about him and was super inquisitive. She affectionately noted that he had a mischievously clever side to him that didn’t appear often, but was there. She remembers his wisp of grey hair that seemed symbolic of his old soul. She revels in knowing she had the pleasure of teaching him. He will be missed terribly.
Ms. Ling had the pleasure of teacher Aaron in both senior kindergarten and grade 2. As spoken by Mrs. Ling:
'I first got to know Aaron in Senior Kindergarten. Here was this serious, observant, and determined child who loved the math centre. I remember he would stay there and try to show classmates who might not grasp some concepts as he did. He would try and try. He’d get out blocks, he’d show them by drawing, he’d repeat himself. He was determined. During story time, Aaron was front and centre. He loved listening to stories and loved surprises. He’d always try to guess who the mystery reader of the week was going to be. I remember seeing his dimpled smile light up his face when one day it was his mom who came in the class as the mystery reader.'
'I was very fortunate to have Aaron cross my path again in Grade 2, along with being an excellent student who did well in everything, I got to experience the caring and loving side of Aaron, who brought in his big teddy bear to school, loved playing 4 square with his friends, and that’s the year Aaron and his friends taught me how to dab. As a bonus, I got to experience his sense of humour. I remember when we made structures for science. I had the class make a fun fair attraction; Aaron made a slide. His selling pitch was, “Behold, the Super slide Master of Disaster. You will slide down super fast. Stay on your seat and hold tight or your life will be a disaster. To ride this ride, make sure you are 40 years old.” This was a 7-year-old writing this. His writing was amazing. I remember his story about an injured hawk written from the hawk’s point of view. His empathy ran deep. I loved reading his work. He was an absolute joy to work with.'
And when he reached grade 3, it was finally my turn. Aaron had a level depth and empathy that is rare for most individuals, much less a 9 year old. He was a reflective boy with an old soul and wise beyond his young years. Aaron demonstrated a kind of grace and maturity that would serve him well in his journey.
When Aaron spoke, we listened because his words and ideas were carefully considered and chosen. Aaron had an innate passion for learning and I loved teaching him, although 4 years later I realize that of the 2 of us, he was the greater teacher.
Aaron as we have heard had a passion for reading, math, and science, but most of all he shone through his pencil. It was in his writing that we saw his wisdom, his sharp wit, his humour, his insights, his depth. He had a way with words that made you want to keep reading. I’d like to share a couple of words he wrote one Remembrance Day when writing to a soldier. Bearing in mind how far removed a 9 year old living in Canada is from the very notion of war, it is with striking sensitivity and empathy that Aaron wrote the words in the following letter title “Dear Brave Soldier: *read his letter* (letter available at More about Aaron)
When Aaron was diagnosed with Leukemia in his grade 3 year, I was devastated. I couldn’t make sense of how this could happen…or why this would happen…it was unjust, unfair. I felt heartbroken and then really, really, really angry. But when I went for visits with Aaron in the spring, he did not share my feelings. He showed an inner strength and bravery that can only be described as inspiring and admirable. What struck me the most is that he never once complained – not a single “why me” or “poor me” was made at any point during our visits. Instead he took the opportunity to learn about the science of it. Aaron would explain his treatments to me. He showed me the tubes and explained their functions. He drew diagrams to describe how everything that was going on in his young body, worked. He intellectualized and accepted what was happening to him and was determined to fight it. I would leave his house after our visits feeling, enlightened, uplifted, and hopeful because of the way Aaron chose to tackle what life had handed him. It’s just the kind of character he had. It’s the kind of character we all wish we could have.
The pandemic brought about more complications and hurdles, but Aaron returned for grade 6 and was ready to work. As his phys ed teacher Mr. Skicos remembers: 'Aaron was a quiet soul who quickly formed close bonds with his friends after being separated for 2 years. He showed resiliency every day and no matter what the activity was, he gave it all he could never backing down. He always wanted to support his friends and teammates. He didn’t want to let them down…that’s just the person he was. When it came to athletics he was competitive and enjoyed competing. He never complained even on the days you could see he was not at his best. He was an inspiration to us all.'
From Mrs. Condello his music teacher: 'When Aaron returned to music class he was determined to be a contributing member of the class. I would check in with him and ask if he needed any kind of accommodation. He would always quickly assure me that he didn’t need anything and would just go along with trying the best he could to finish the assignments or group work. I remember he was always looking for answers by asking questions and demonstrating confidence when expressing his opinions. He liked to debate and communicate his ideas. He was an intelligent student and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to teach him.'
I received the email from Aaron’s mom on January 10th saying 'Aaron had relapsed in November. The family was holding an early birthday celebration for Aaron the following day at Sick Kids and asked 'if possible, could I attend?' I will always be grateful to Aaron’s family for granting me the privilege and opportunity to see Aaron. This is a day that will stay with me forever as I have scarcely been impacted as deeply by anything more profound in my life. Visiting Aaron on January the 11th was one of the most difficult yet inspiring events I have ever experienced. Though he was in visible pain and discomfort Aaron greeted me with warmth, calmness, and appreciation. The conversation we had that day moved me so deeply and will forever remain in my heart. Aaron found the strength to comfort me in his time of pain. He shared memories of lessons I taught him, and asked me to tell the teachers at Bridlewood that he missed them. The one only wish that I heard from Aaron that day was to be able to return to school.
Aaron leaves behind a legacy of admirable strength, stoicism and bravery which will live on when I tell my future students about the most courageous boy I knew. We were Aaron’s teachers at Bridlewood, but his lessons will forever live with us.
(By Ms. Lindsey Tessier)
Memories Shared by Ms. Belanger, Aaron’s Grade-6 Teacher at Bridlewood, on the memorial, January 21, 2023
“When you teach the biggest kids in a school, you tend to not know the younger students very well. I didn’t know Aaron before he joined my class, but I did know a bit about his journey. That’s why I was so happy to see his name on my list in the summer of 2021. I was glad he would be back with us for his last year of elementary school, and he had a great year. He was a dream student in class and always gave his best. He loved to spend time with his friends, making up for lost time. He was kind and caring and liked to joke around. His friends went to him for help or advice in class all the time and were always together at recess. I got to see him having so much fun, like when he, Emmitt, Alex, and Brandon built a fort with logs or tried to start a fire from scratch on our trip to Sheldon Valley, or celebrating with his friends at Mandarin during our grad lunch. It felt extra special seeing him cross the stage at graduation knowing what it took to get there. I feel honoured to have had him in my class and we will remember the remarkable boy that he was.”
Posted by Rhonda-Cohen Pierobon, in RSVP to the memorial, January 15, 2023:
.”….My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you during these very difficult time. Aaron will continue to have a special place in my heart."
Posted by Lillian Sung to the obituary page, January 21, 2023:”
“I only knew Aaron for a short period of time – but he is unforgettable. He was truly a remarkable boy – generous, kind, brilliant and wise beyond his years. It was a privilege to meet him. My deep condolences to the Chen family.”
Posted by Laura Condello, in RSVP to the memorial, January 16, 2023
“I am so sorry for your loss. Aaron was such an eager to learn student.”
Posted by Gaynor Lim, in RSVP to the memorial, January 16, 2023
“My deepest condolences for the loss of your beloved son, Aaron. May you find comfort and peace in our Lord. With profound sympathy, Gaynor.”
Posted by Cherie Ling, in RSVP to the memorial, January 16, 2023:
“…. Please accept my deepest condolences. Aaron was an excellent student, friend, and person. So curious and playful and I remember him as a lover of nature. An Angel has earned his wings early for a reason we will never know.”
Posted by M. and T. in RSVP to the memorial, January 17, 2023:
Comments by Aaron’s Friends and Classmates
Shared by Aaron’s Close Friend Brian Y. on Aaron’s 13th birthday, February 5, 2023
"In Memory of Aaron Jingyi Chen
05 – 2 – 2010 – 12 – 1 – 2023
Aaron was a great friend, even though we had our ups and downs. He was a great chess player, as when he was only a few months into the board game, he was defeating players with years if not decades of experience. When he was two years into chess, he was beating and defeating fully titled chess masters. He was a true prodigy, and had he lived I have zero doubt that he would become Canada’s greatest chess player, and amongst the best in the world.
There was this one time, around the summer of 2019 when I bet him $100 that he could not beat me in chess with just a king and queen, so he accepted. I made the foolish decision to say that “If you could beat me with a king, queen and knight, I’ll give you $50”. So he accepted. In the end, I blundered and he got a mate with his queen being protected by the knight. I still owe him the $50.
From what my parents told me, the first time I met him, I hid behind my mom. I don’t remember any of that as I was one at that time. Since our houses were right across from each other, we of course grew very close as friends, our parents included.
At school, in grade one, we often played tag with each other with another kid named Chris, and a few others. We were very close as friends, and often we came to my house.
Overall, Aaron was a great and funny friend, and very smart. We will all miss him, but his spirit lives in our hearts. Happy 13th birthday, Aaron." – Brian
Posted by Ylevinson Santos to the obituary page, January 2, 2023:
"Aaron was a funny, great friend. He was one of my lunch buddies. I'm going to miss him."
Posted by Jesse Whiteman to the obituary page, January 18, 2023:
“I’m always gonna miss Aaron and he was an amazing friend. I really cared about him and it’s sad to see him go.”
Posted by Morgan Lai to the obituary page, January 20, 2023:
“I’m always going to think about Aaron no matter what. He was my first grade 7 friend and all the activities we did in school have really led to my conclusion about what a great friend Aaron was. I remember we were having so much fun in Math that the teacher said “NO HAVING FUN WITHOUT ME!!!” Aaron will always be in my heart and I will always care about him. Rest In Peace, Aaron.”
Messages by Family and Family Friends
Posted by Nan Ding to the obituary page, January 19, 2023:
Sample Messages by Parents’ Colleagues and Others
Posted by Margaret and Michael, in RSVP to the memorial, January 16, 2023:
“Remember Me To the living, I am gone, But to the faithful, I have never left. I cannot speak, but I can listen. I cannot be seen, but I can be heard. So as you stand upon a shore gazing at a beautiful sea, As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity, Remember me. Remember me in your heart: Your thoughts, and your memories, Of the times we loved, The times we cried, The times we fought, The times we laughed. For if you always think of me, I will never have gone.”
Posted by Michelle Murphy to the obituary page, January 20, 2023:
“Sending you heartfelt condolences for the loss of Aaron. Thank you for sharing about him. He was clearly very very loved. I wish for you strength in this time of grief. The scholarship is a beautiful tribute. Thank you for the opportunity to recognize his life in that way.”
Posted by Kerryon Nugent to the obituary page, January 19, 2023:
“My heart goes out to you and your family may you find comfort in knowing little Aaron is in God’s arms. Please be strong and cherish his memories. Lots of love and prayers from a stranger.”
To learn more about Aaron from some rare samples of his own writings and “life map” journal and everyday-life video clips and from the unique perspectives from his older brother Anthony, you might want to check out the page of “More about Aaron”.
If you happen to know Aaron and would like to share your memories, please feel free to leave a message below. If you intend to leave a private message for the family only, please also indicate that. Thank you.