It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Gary Steeves, who recently published Tranquility Lost: The Occupation of Tranquille and Battle for Community Care in BC with Nightwood Editions in October.
Gary worked for social and environmental justice all his adult life. He was born in 1950 in the Maritimes and spent his early life there. Following his studies at Mount Allison University, he worked in the House of Commons for five years before moving to a position at the National Research Department of the Canadian Union of Public Employees in Ottawa. He relocated to BC in 1979 and became a staff representative with the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union and then went on to serve as director of the union from 1993 to 2004. He also sat on numerous government boards and agencies, including the BC Labour Force Development Board and the Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission, and held various positions in the union movement, including executive council member of the BC Federation of Labour. From 2004 to 2014, he served on the Islands Trust Council, including six years on its executive committee as vice-chair.
Silas White, publisher of Nightwood Editions, acknowledges Gary’s significant contributions to the labour movement in his work as an activist and author:
“Gary Steeves was larger than life in the most genuine, right (well, left) way—certainly not through the flashy modes of ego or notoriety or ambition, but rather through his huge heart and huge smile. The sheer power of it would hit you the moment you got anywhere near him. His modesty as an organizer and community representative was also immense. (Only Gary could make modesty immense!) And it shines through in his book and talents as a writer, as he credits all the other heroines and heroes of the Tranquille occupation in Tranquility Lost, his first and final book. It is a tremendously well-written contribution to BC history, and to labour history. When I first heard Gary had a book, I knew I wanted to publish it even before I’d determined he could write. And he could! We’re devastated that we weren’t able to launch it into the world together, but comforted that he was able to treasure and enjoy the fruits of his labour before his untimely passing. It’s ultimately a great gift to all of us that he was able to document this unique and fascinating career achievement in grassroots organizing, and of fighting the good fight for those most in need.”
Gary passed away on December 8, 2020. We extend our sincere condolences to Marina Horvath, Gary’s wife and partner of forty years, as well as his legions of devoted friends and colleagues.