09/22/2014 09:49 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:05 EDT

Jim Deva, owner of Little Sister's bookshop, dead at 65

Jim Deva, a leader in Vancouver's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, died unexpectedly on Sunday afternoon.

Deva co-founded Little Sister's Book & Art Emporium on Davie Street in 1983.

Vancouver lawyer barbara findlay (who spells her name without capital letters) said Deva became a staunch defender of freedom of speech.

"He and the book store stood up for freedom of speech all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada twice."

Deva and his partners in the store went to court after the Canada Border Services Agency prevented materials it deemed as "obscene" from being delivered to the store.   

"He fought against that kind of de facto censorship and stood up for the right of every person to have sex when and where they wanted to," said findlay.

"Deva's legacy really can't be overstated...He established a community centre as well as a book store and this has been a place that everybody has looked to for information for support, for advice," said findlay.

Deva and the store were the subject of multiple books and documentaries over the years.