Queen’s mourns the loss of student Bethany Qun Yi Yan

Memorial fund established in her memory

Bethany Qun Yi Yan passed suddenly on Jan. 26.
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Queen’s students and faculty are mourning the loss of fifth-year ConEd student Bethany Qun Yi Yan, affectionately known as Bethany Boat.

Qun Yi Yan, a member of the Queen’s Cheerleading team, died suddenly on Sunday, Jan. 26. A memorial fund has been established in her memory to financially assist students who hope to become educators and have a passion for teamwork and cheerleading. 

“She put everyone’s needs before her own, and she continually and constantly worked hard for everyone’s own happiness before her own,” said one of her friends, Courtney MacNiven, ArtSci ’19, in an interview with The Journal.

Originally from Toronto, Qun Yi Yan was in the final year of her Bachelor of Education, specializing in both History and French. MacNiven said Qun Yi Yan had wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a teacher. 

“Anyone who met her felt accepted, loved, and like they had a friend,” MacNiven said.

Qun Yi Yan was also fondly remembered as an active leader to her Queen’s Cheerleading community. Her cheerful and fun sense of humour was what earned her the nickname “Boat,” while playing a beginning-of-the-season icebreaker.

In an interview with The Journal, Bethany’s former cheermate Khamil Alhade, BComp ’18, spoke about Bethany’s time on the cheer team.

“I don't think she fully understood the game, and so one of the words that she described herself [with] was just "boat," not with a lot of context, and people thought it was pretty funny,” Alhade said. “[It] really stuck, and actually, I'd say most of the people at Queen's who knew her probably knew her as Boat.”

When describing how loved she was by her cheer team, Alhade said it was Qun Yi Yan’s unwavering support and eagerness to extend kindness to her teammates that he remembered most fondly.

“[She had] unbelievable amounts of light and positivity and strength, like she was a rock,” Alhade said. “She [was] easily one of our best that we had.” 

Fellow cheerleader and another friend of Qun Yi Yan, Luke Flewwelling, ArtSci ’20, recalled the first time he met her during Orientation Week. He described Qun Yi Yan as eagerly helping first-year students get started walking across a slackline that the Queen’s Cheer team had set up over the old pier.

“I think that her helping people start on the slackline over and over again really encompasses who she was, because no matter what, she was there to hold your hand and to get you starting on something new again.” 

Flewwelling also described her bringing him Common Ground Coffeehouse cake and candies when he was feeling down. He said she readily appeared at friends’ doors in facemasks with an assortment of foods to share when they needed her. He said it was Qun Yi Yan’s caring spirit that made her one of the most special people he would ever know.

“I think that her legacy of always bringing a positive attitude to any situation, her ability to care for others even if something negative was happening in her life, is always going to live on in anyone that ever met her,” he said.

 Contributions may be made in her memory through the Queen’s University Bethany Qun Yi Yan Memorial Fund.

 With files from Jack Rabb.

This article was last updated on Feb. 19 to reflect updated quotes about Bethany's life.

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