Dr. Mike Carr passes at 73

Dr. Mike Carr, lover of life, dedicated community activist, academic and teacher, treasured member of families and communities near and far, happy husband and grandpa, passed away amongst his Cuban family on January 15th 2015, in Havana Cuba.

Mike was born in Toronto on the equinox, March 21st 1942. He grew up in a family that supported the aspirations of working people and minorities. 

A celebrated non-conformist, life-long interpretive dancer and bon vivant, Mike’s life and career took many turns, every one (after a brief early stutter) with ironclad belief in the potential of people in community to forge a socially just and ecologically sound present and future – and indeed that doing so, taking control of our own lives, is the only way that a sane, sensible future can be created out of present circumstances.

Following an ill-fated term in Engineering, Mike eventually earned a Master’s in French (U of T, 1971) while organizing for TCLSAC, focused on supporting liberation struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Mike was one of the organizers of The People’s Food Commission at the end of the ‘70s. The PFC took submissions and conducted hearings across the country on agricultural/food issues with interested parties of the food production and consumption scene. 1600 attended the hearings in Ontario alone.

Mike continued his studies with a year at the Sorbonne, Paris. Later joined CUSO to teach English in Ghana. In the early 1980’s Mike moved to Vancouver and began his many years of on-air work at Co-op Radio. He was an organizer of the first Vancouver “Walk for Peace” in 1982, which by 1984 attracted over 100,000 marchers and was an annual event in the city for many years.

Mike continued his social and environmental activism during a 1987 return to academia at York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies – then the sole comprehensive graduate faculty on the issue in Canada and one of few globally – co-hosting “Ecology and Politics” on CKLN radio at Ryerson while engaged in courses, working as a TA, and conducting research into the Bioregional movement around North America. He earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies (York, 1990) and his PhD at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (1999). His dissertation focused on the history and analysis of the Bioregional movement and theories of civil society. UBC Press published it as Bioregionalism and Civil Society: Democratic Challenges to Corporate Globalism in 2004. Concurrently Mike worked with Bill Rees and Mathis Wackernagel among others on the “Ecological Footprint” concept. Dr. Rees described Mike as “one of North America’s foremost bioregional thinkers and advocates for a socially just and sustainable society.”

For twenty years thereafter Dr. Carr taught courses in First Nations Studies, Urban Studies, Geography, Sociology, Anthropology and Bioregional Mapping at SFU and UBC, through the depth and warmth of his teaching creating profound relationships with many students which lasted his lifetime. While doing so Mike founded, co/founded, and/or worked with numerous community-based groups and organizations including the Aurora Institute, Eco-City Network, Barefoot Cartographers, Tin Wis Coalition, Native Education Society, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, and always Vancouver Coop Radio – just to mention a few. He took up the challenge to run as a federal Green candidate in East Vancouver in 2008 against the indomitable NDP MP Libby Davies, Mike’s irrepressible spirit alive in each of the all-candidate meetings, “keeping them honest” he would guffaw. Not long afterward Mike was spiritually adopted by the Morgan family of the Stuctwesemc people of the Secwepemc nation, whose members he loved and who loved him back, after long years of knowing Mike through his treasured friends in the Yalakom Valley.

Mike Carr’s joie de vivre was second to none. Mike lived life as a celebration just about each and every day, enthralled with beauty in people, in nature, in music, dancing, art, in the pursuit of knowledge, and in his famous love of parties and laughing hugely. He was so passionately full of life that in spite of serious illness over the last few years he leaves behind relatives and friends quite slowly coming to terms with his death.

A celebration of Mike’s life will be held on March 22nd 2015 (1-5 p.m.) at the WISE Hall (Victoria and Adanac) in his long-term home of East Vancouver by close friends joined by many others and family members from Ontario, BC, Secwepemc territory, and Cuba. He will be sadly missed by his wife Susana, step-daughter Aida, grandchildren Alexander and Arlee, brother Don, sister Marlene, brother in law Rex, nieces Meagan and Danielle, and by his Hungarian family, Kriszta his soul mate of 30 years and Greg, his adopted brother.

Mike’s most recent book Big Bad Banks: Wall Street Thieves (2012), a historical analysis of economic and political control exercised by globalized financial entities, is presently in “e” format waiting posthumous publication. Donations: please email to krisztahernadi@shaw.ca.