November 8, 2020
Gail Adrienne (nee Roach) resident of Nanaimo, BC, passed away on November 8, 2020 at the age of 76 years.
Gail was born in Victoria, BC to parents Ken and Lorna, siblings Loreen (Bill), Anita (Ken), and Gary (Joan). Her favourite childhood memories were family trips to the Sooke River or backpacking in Forbidden Plateau—joined always by cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and the family dog.
It was here that Gail gained her love for and dedication to natural spaces. She cherished her family’s seasonal get-togethers—a table crammed with family, friends, feast, and celebration.
This too was something she emulated on holidays and open houses for years to come. She would spend most of these gatherings in the kitchen, happily slicing veggies, stirring the gravy, and adding final touches. Always taking the last seat at the table to enjoy her friends and family coming together and eating well. Help with dishes— resolutely refused!
Gail graduated from Esquimalt High School in 1962. After two years of pre-med and psychology at UVic, Gail sailed to Europe for a more robust education. After an initial meltdown lugging a heavy suitcase in the pouring rain in a foreign country, Gail quickly adapted to and thrived in the traveller’s life.
She explored Europe widely in the 60’s with friends Penny, Maggie, and others. Here Gail discovered a lifelong love for Greece— its people, its food, and its culture.
After returning to Canada to complete her BA in Social Sciences (Carleton), Gail ventured back to Greece in 1970. It was there that she met Ray, with whom she settled in Creston, BC and welcomed children Andrew and Carra.
As well as being a proud mother, and a fierce organic gardener, Gail devoted her livelihood to supporting the well-being of her communities. This included spearheading the creation of the Creston Valley Gleaners Society in 1983 and co- founding the Creston Crisis Line in 1988.
After moving back to the Island in 1990, Gail continued working in her new community to make life better for everyone. Her early efforts in Nanaimo included spearheading a waste management project and involvement in several community health initiatives.
Spurred on by her son’s concern for the future a suburban greenspace refuge known as the Linley Valley, Gail, with Barbara Hourston and a dedicated board, founded the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (NALT) in 1995. NALT’s campaign for protecting the Linley Valley was a success, as thousands who regularly experience the trails and serenity there can attest.
NALT has carried on to initiate or support countless campaigns and activities for the preservation of natural spaces in the Nanaimo area, including their Mount Benson campaign, which, in 2006, preserved over 500 acres of the mountain’s front face. Gail served as the Executive Director of NALT until August 2017 and was proud to be part of this team and the successes they achieved.
In acknowledgment of her lifetime commitment to community development, in 2012, Gail received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for dedicated contributions to her peers, her community, and to Canada.
Gail will be dearly missed by friends, cousins, nieces and nephews, surviving siblings, and her children Andrew (Vanessa) and Carra (Samuel). While her children were inspired by her tireless work to support and sustain the communities they grew up in, they valued most time spent with her gardening, cooking, or enjoying parks and nature. Gail sparked in her children, and all those who knew her, a love for what the earth offers and sustains and to do their part to maintain these gifts.
We hope Gail may now be reunited with her dear parents, cousin Cherie, friend Charlotte, sister Loreen, and so many others—not to mention the many of four-legged friends who trotted on down the trail before her. May she be free to adventure again.
Gail’s family would like to thank the staff of Chartwell Malaspina, in particular the Blue Heron care team with Leslie and Dr. Patrick Kerridge. We would also like to thank her cousin Gordon (Anne) for his support, particularly the last few months, connecting us for final expressions of love and gratitude.
To remember Gail, to honour her life, please consider planting a tree or a veggie bed, dedicating a corner of your yard to a native plant refuge, or extending a donation to an organization of your choosing—supporting the preservation of natural spaces or community development.
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