Sandy Cameron died a few weeks ago and there was a celebration of his remarkable life today.
He had been my friend and a mentor for more than twenty years but there were things I didn't know about him. Like that his name was Clive.
He was an activist in the Downtown East Side and worked hard for social justice. Not like most people who work for social justice but with passion and commitment like Gandhi or Buddha.
He dedicated his life to making this world a more livable place for people who are disenfranchised and left without.
His life was useful and meaningful to the end and remained useful today as people discussed and recommitted to making a change in something.
He was a poet who encouraged others to write. He once published one of my poems without my permission or knowledge. He encouraged amazing writers like Bud Osborn and Sheila Baxter.
He taught people to read in the park and in the rain.
He encouraged others to action and healing. He honestly believed that people made poor choices because they needed more information. He remained almost innocent to the flaws of others and just encouraged them with his absolute wealth of information.
He was soft spoken, gentle, well educated and intelligent. He had a rare analysis that never rested. He shared. His beautiful sister said he wouldn't eat a treat as a child unless you had one too. Sandy recognised the pain of others and made things less painful.
I was lucky enough to breath his air and inspiration. I worked with his perfect life partner, Jean Swanson, for more than ten years of my life. I relied on his information for any justice fight I was ever involved with. His support and analysis let us be successful enough to create things like food programs for all of the hungry school children in B.C.
Members of the Saanich Nation showed up today for his service. They sang three songs and played skin drums. Children sang for him in love. Men and women wept and sang solidarity songs. People touched who hadn't touched in years. The Carnegie Auditorium was full. So was the Auxiliary room and out to the street.
He once told me he didn't get me at all. He looked at my art work and said that "Of course...you are an artist and a poet. Please make art!" I often wonder if I would have if he hadn't acknowledged me. Given permission to do art. To write poetry. To swear out loud at injustice.
Sandy "Clive" Cameron lived a good life. His quiet presence will be missed, but his goodness was so contagious that it will live on in the amazing community that is the DTES.
"My life is my message." Gandhi