In a Facebook post Friday morning, his mother Tina Boileau (who dedicated her life to caring for him and never left his side), called Pitre a "fearless warrior."
"Jonny's story has been made very public over the last few years as he invited you into his life and his daily struggles with EB as he tirelessly fought to raise awareness for this horrific disease. I am proud to say you did it Jonny boy!" Boileau wrote.
"Thank you for your outpouring of love and support for Jonathan and myself in these sad times. My family and I are now requesting your understanding in respecting our privacy as we reunite as a family to support each other in the challenging days ahead as we grieve the loss of our son, brother, grandson and above all a fearless warrior."
Pitre was an inspiration
Shortly after he was born, Pitre was diagnosed with recessive dystrophic EB, "a severe form of the disease that causes the skin to blister, shear and scar," according to the Ottawa Citizen. Around the world, those with the disease are known as "butterfly children" because their skin is as fragile as a butterfly's wings, according to EB charity Debra International.
EB skin never heals properly, children develop chronic open wounds, and the disease can cause decreased mobility due to scar tissue and pain, Debra International explains on its website. In its most severe forms, EB can be fatal in infancy. Many teenagers and young adults with EB die from skin cancer.
Pitre's positive nature in the face of his grim disease, and his sense of purpose to raise money and awareness for EB, made him an inspiration to the city that embraced him, to Canadians, and to people around the world.
After his story in the Ottawa Citizen first went viral in 2014, Pitre inspired people to donate more than $200,000 to Debra Canada, was made an honourary NHL scout by the Ottawa Senators, gave a speech at We Day, attended the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, and was featured in an award-winning TSN documentary.
Condolences poured in as news of Pitre's death spread Friday morning.
Jonathan Pitre was a hero in every sense of the word - a courageous and determined fighter who persisted in the face of every challenge, and who inspired so many. My deepest condolences to his mother Tina, friends and family today. https://t.co/JqqljEyJYz— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 6, 2018
Our friend and inspiration Jonathan Pitre has passed away at 17. Jonathan was the most courageous young man I've ever met. He had the toughest life imagineable, and yet always saw the positive in it...always found hope through endless pain. His disease gave him a purpose...to help educate, and help other kids with EB. This is my favourite pic with Jonny. It was the first night I met him in person. We had heard he wanted to be a sportscaster, so he came down to TSN and joined the panel for a night. And he was a natural. Jonny was an old soul. So smart, so kind, so brave. He loved sports, loved The Flash, loved reading, especially science fiction, adored his dog Gibson. Keep his incredible Mom Tina and the rest of his family in your hearts. We will miss you bud, and never ever forget you.
The Senators join the rest of Ottawa and mourn the loss of our special friend. He taught us what courage and resilience really is, all the while displaying his trademark enthusiasm and smile.— Ottawa Senators 🦋 (@Senators) April 6, 2018
We'll all miss you, Jonathan.
Our sincere condolences to Tina and the entire family. pic.twitter.com/g40UsP0yLW
Very sad to hear about the passing of Jonathan Pitre. One of he bravest people I ever had the honour of meeting Rest in Peace pic.twitter.com/tiY4rG7Acx— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) April 6, 2018
Jonathan Pitre , for me, is a modern Terry Fox. I am so sad this morning. What an inspiration. A true Canadian Hero.— Guillaume Couillard (@G_Couillard) April 6, 2018
It was a privilege getting to know you Jonathan Pitre, thanks for sharing all of your great qualities with us all. You will always be remembered. My thoughts and prayers to Tina and the entire Pitre family.— Erik Karlsson (@ErikKarlsson65) April 6, 2018
The TSN family is saddened by the loss of our dear friend Jonathan Pitre.— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) April 6, 2018
We share our condolences with his mother Tina Boileau and his family and friends. We'll miss you, Jonathan. https://t.co/G7ZLB6BSCY pic.twitter.com/jZhYYnaz3h
Our hearts go out to the family of Jonathan Pitre, a beautiful and brave young man whose courage in the face of an unimaginably difficult disease was matched only by the love of his mother, @BoileauTina. @DEBRACanada https://t.co/nglWdGH4hN— CdnPaediatricSociety (@CanPaedSociety) April 6, 2018
Pitre died from complications from septic shock triggered by a skin infection, Boileau told the Ottawa Citizen.
He had been living in Minnesota on and off since 2016, where he was receiving an experimental treatment for EB. He had hoped to return home later this year.
"I can't imagine my life without him," Boileau told the Ottawa Citizen.