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Brian DeBeck: An exemplary citizen and community builder in Vancouver

Brian DeBeck has transcended his role as a union negotiator in Vancouver to become an extraordinary citizen and pillar of community support. His 30-year tenure dedicated to the welfare of the Retail Wholesale Union (RWU) membership barely scratches the surface of his extensive commitment to aiding others.

Since his university days at UBC in the 1970s, Brian has been a force for change. His initiative to establish the York Street Commune as a beacon for creativity and activism sparked the creation of influential projects like New Star Books, the Georgia Straight Writing Supplement, and the West End Food Co-op. This period marked the beginning of his lasting impact on Vancouver’s cultural and social fabric.

Brian, alongside his wife Karen Tallman, has since 1974, transformed their home into a sanctuary for a wide spectrum of individuals in need—ranging from creative minds and activists to refugees and those terminally ill. Their open-door policy for hosting gatherings and fundraisers has significantly enriched Vancouver’s artistic and social spheres.

Beyond cultural contributions, Brian’s compassion extends to personal support for those facing significant life challenges, providing guidance to newcomers and unwavering support to the ill. His deep-rooted connection with the Haida community in Old Massett on Haida Gwaii, highlighted by a 42-year friendship with the Davidson family and the honor of receiving Haida names, showcases his profound dedication to cultural respect and community service.

Now in his 70s and retired from his union role, Brian’s zeal for civic engagement continues unabated. He remains actively involved in the union pension plan, providing advice and mentorship, and consistently lends a hand to those in need within his community.

Brian DeBeck exemplifies the essence of compassionate community involvement. His life’s work of selfless dedication has not only touched countless lives but also serves as a powerful example of the impact one individual can have in fostering a kinder, more inclusive society.

Source: CBC