|In the span of only a few short weeks, Minnekhada Park Association has sustained the painful loss of two great individuals.
It’s been like a punch to the gut to lose these two faithful Board Members whose enduring love for Minnekhada will always be remembered and cherished. At the end of May 2021, we lost a highly-spirited, passionately creative woman and humanitarian, Counsellor Fari Lotfali. She was a fearless advocate for justice and sought to open the minds and hearts of everyone around her. Sometimes gently, and sometimes in, as she would call it, using a “tough love” approach!
She courageously and consistently spoke her mind, to challenge status quo thinking, or to help encourage quieter individuals to find their voice. She was particularly passionate about broadening and deepening awareness and recognition of First Nations cultures, as well as shining light on the dark history and the devastating impacts that came with colonialism.
Minnekhada, was also called “Dreamland” by Counsellor Fari, with its deeper-historied indigenous, cultural/spiritual and sacred significance, She saw all of us holding an important and sacred responsibility to love and steward this land. Highly creative, an author several books, screenplays, and scripts – she liked to utilize the arts as a way to communicate, to reach people’s hearts and souls. Soulfully singing and chanting was another cultural art form that she liked to share with others. Fari wholeheartedly participated at, and contributed to the unique and memorable Minnekhada Annual Art in the Park Festival years, too.
She is one of a kind, and with her deep faith, we have no doubt that she will fly high and continue to help guide our path in stewarding and caring for Minnekhada. We will miss her essence and that twinkle in her eye, but will seek comfort in knowing her influence will live on forever in our hearts.
Then, on July 4th 2021, Roger Loubert passed away peacefully in his sleep after a challenging road with cancer, which he navigated with the same remarkable adaptability and creativity he had utilized in his community work at large. A booming voice, he shepherded Minnekhada for since 2003, with other caring community MPA Board members. He sat on the executive as both Chair and Vice-Chair for several years, and most recently as Secretary. He was deeply impressed and enamored with the exceptionally rare, unique and visionary thinking of the Parks Partnership model, which promotes the value of citizen engagement for a civil society.
Roger was also a lover of the arts, and in particular, Storytelling, as a means for capturing the interest, energy and imagination of the community. He saw Minnekhada as a perfect backdrop for sharing settlement stories along with the intersections of art, environmental awareness, geography, nature, and culture. His sociable and approachable nature, allowed him to touch and connect with a wide variety of people in the community. As a think-outside-the-box type of individual, he helped to birth some creative and unusual events at Minnekhada, and thereby creating a unique organizational culture and approach. A remarkable achievement while working with a large governmental structure such as Metro Vancouver. Minnekhada’s Art in the Park, visits from the history-sharing theatrical troupe The Voyageurs, and Creative Café were three such events. Later pop up cafes, as well as using film to capture another way for people to connect to the animals and plants at Minnekhada were explored.
Roger’s eyes would light up whenever it came to thinking of various ways to work with local like-minded community groups and individuals, particularly when it came to generating interesting and innovative approaches to deliver important messages. Always generous with his time, we will miss his special approaches and passion for community engagement generally, and Minnekhada specifically.
In his final days, Roger indicated he wanted to be an Eagle circling the skies at Minnekhada. We will watch for him.
(composition by Steven Bridge)