by Sue Stroud
On March 19, 2016 the community lost a powerful, passionate voice when Carole Pearson died from cancer. Saanich Voice Online co-contributor, co-activist, neighbour and friend Sue Stroud offers this story on the occasion of Carole’s passing.
Carole Pearson was an active, engaged citizen of Central Saanich having lived here for the past 15 years. She loved being part of the community, joining in all the annual activities of the Saanichton Village Assoc. and the Saanich Pioneer Society and their museum. She was a member of the Residents and Ratepayers of Central Saanich Society and took great interest in municipal affairs.
Like so many, Carole loved and wanted to preserve the mellow nature of the Central Saanich countryside. She attended the all-candidates’ meetings and had a devastating analysis of the would-be councillors and mayors. Her grasp of what people were really about was wonderful. Her advice was useful and her support appreciated each time I ran. She didn’t mind listening to the same speech being rehearsed and revised and didn’t hesitate to remind me when to breathe.
Carole was hit by a car one rainy night and was laid up at home for several months. A group of us who met regularly at Spelt’s Coffee on Fridays nights to discuss politics showed up one evening at her house with seven or eight different kinds of chocolate, wine and flowers. We sat on and around her bed laughing and enjoying her company for several hours.
Carole was quiet and soft spoken in a crowd, but with a wittiness that could slay you. I watched her sit through a whole evening with women chatting about their lives and the places they’d been, hardly saying a word herself, but enjoying all the stories and discussions going on around her. Later she could recount the complete conversations offering empathy for each who had spoken.
A few years back Carole took me to a rehearsal for The Corporate Golden Piggy Awards, an annual community ‘celebration’ of those in government and industry who place their own welfare far above that of the public they serve. The skits were simple and very funny, the props were homemade and ingenious. Carole clearly enjoyed being part of this troupe and we laughed about both the skits and the characters as we drove home that evening.
It was her empathetic nature that coloured the articles she wrote on issues like the fires at BC sawmills (“What Did Not Have To Be – The B.C. Sawmill Tragedies,” Our Times Magazine, June 2015) and her love of anything small and quaint and sound that inspired cob houses: “Bilbo Baggins never had it so good,” Globe and Mail, September 2000. She loved to tell stories and writing was a great way to convey the things she cared about.
Carole was a traveller. She loved to venture to distant lands. It was in fact on a trip to Eastern Europe last fall that she became ill and entered hospital at Krakow. Carole said that she was well cared for by the hospital, the Canadian Embassy and a travel insurance company out of Richmond BC called TuGo which sent a very able nurse to act as her advocate and bring her home to us.
Carole’s gone now after a few weeks in hospice and it feels odd not to chat with her every night on Facebook or call her up and head out to the pub.
What I’ll remember most is just sitting and sipping ciders on a hot summer day, watching the birds flitting around her yard or the yard at the Six Mile Pub. It was peaceful, it was pleasant, it was Carole.
Farewell Carole, you’ll always be remembered with a smile, Sue.
From Lorraine Endicott, the Our Times editor:
OUR TIMES SAYS GOODBYE TO WEST COAST WRITER, CAROLE PEARSON:
For 15 years Carole wrote one excellent feature story after another for us, always with great care for the craft of writing, and with deep care for workers and their lives. She wrote her first story for Our Times in 1999, about chocolate factory workers organizing in B.C. (“How Sweet It Is!”). Last year she penned: “What Did Not Have to Be,” about the BC sawmill explosions; and “Growing Older, Growing Bolder,” about seniors organizing. We, and Canada’s labour movement, are really going to miss her.
Carole wrote to Our Times’ publisher during her last days, saying, “I wish you and Our Times all the best in the future. The magazine is an important voice for workers, who are often viewed as expendable [by] a media that focuses on corporate profits and takeovers and the management side of things.”
With Carole’s blessing, Our Times is setting aside funds in her memory for emerging young writers who, like Carole, want to make a difference in the world by writing about issues of concern to working people.
Thank you, Carole, from all of us at Our Times.