“The times that Joshua spent at Algonquin were some of the best moments of his life.”
Those words were expressed by Christopher Clute, the grieving father of advertising student Joshua Clute, 18, who passed away on Jan. 26 in hospital after an tragic stairwell incident on campus Jan 17.
Just weeks after Joshua died, Mr. Clute spoke with the Times to reflect and pay tribute to his son’s life story, and all of the good times he experienced.
“He seemed happier than when he had been since high school. He was engaged, motivated and eager to talk about what he was doing in his courses,” Mr. Clute said.
“I think he was finally doing something that he wanted, which does take away some of the pain we feel.”
Joshua was involved in a group at Algonquin called the Transition Support Center, where staff assist people with Autism spectrum disorder. They helped Joshua come out of his comfort zone and start talking to people in the halls.
“It was a real breakthrough for him.”
Joshua’s autism diagnosis, however, wasn’t really what he was about, his father said. “He was more than that. It didn’t define him and he didn’t let it get in his way.”
He was creative, imaginative and very artistic. Mr.Clute had mentioned graphic design to him as a program option he could apply for after high school, as he felt it would fit his creative abilities and he would enjoy it.
But Joshua wanted to take a different route and decided on the advertising program at Algonquin.
“I think that advertising was a natural fit. It just goes back to his love of design,” said Mr. Clute.
In fact, Joshua’s artwork lingers around the family home waiting to be found. It will take years to go through all of the art that Joshua has left behind, Mr. Clute said. Once in a while a piece of paper will turn up with a Pokémon — another drawing for school or for his own pleasure.
His son had always been a shy person, keeping to his group of closely-knit friends and family, which had always been important to him. Joshua and his mother, Roxanne Clute, bonded over their love for reading and books.
His smile was contagious, and his humour made others laugh.
Mr.Clute was a stay-at-home dad, which made their bond even stronger. Joshua and his younger brother, Oliver Clute, were always close, even when they had their brotherly fights.
Reflecting on those childhood years, Mr. Clute said that ever since Joshua was a little boy he loved cars; he would point specifically to the logo on the grille, showing his dad what type of car it was. He could understand and do all of this before he even spoke his first word.
“He looked like me. When he was a baby people would say that it looked like I cloned myself,” said Mr.Clute.
“He didn’t start talking until he was three and a half, but he was able to understand and read words. He just couldn’t vocalize,” said Mr.Clute.
The two brothers got along as well as they could. When Oliver was brought home for the first time Joshua clapped his hands, expressing his joy for the new person in his life. The brotherly bond never went away, even after death.
He always spent time with his grandmother and aunts whenever given the chance. They were always there for him no matter what.
Joshua didn’t have the opportunity to have a real job, even though it was something that he was very interested in. Despite that, he managed to live life to the fullest.
Mr. Clute said Joshua’s funeral was “filled with family and friends”, showing just how much he meant to everyone around him.
Family and friends paid their respects at Racine, Robert & Gauthier Funeral Home on Feb. 16. A memorial service was held on Feb. 17 in the chapel of the funeral home.