Our writing friend Debbie Blair, who was active with Thursdays Writing Collective off and on for several years, disappeared on a hike on September 29, 2016. We were stunned to see her name and likeness appear in the news that evening. The development of the story was excrutiating as searchers related their attempts and the challenges of negotiating Cypress Mountain in bad weather. There is a wiki page about her disappearance.
Three days after her disappearance the North Shore Rescue team suspended the search, believing her survival in the cold exposure to be impossible. Our DTES community has responded with warmth and connection in remembering Debbie, a busy arts lover who added her creativity to so many moments of our lives. So many questions about her last day persist but a few friends remember her speaking about her idea of a peaceful, perfect ending being a long walk in the forest. It’s almost spooky.
As I look back at my email correspondence with Debbie throughout the years I remember a woman who was curious abut creativity, eager to attend Bard on the Beach with our group, happy to join in activities and willing to stay connected despite challenges such as having her phone or laptop stolen. She was quiet in our classroom setting, watching and listening but confident in her own sharing – and when she read her pieces to us she had a glimmer of both humour and defiance in her eye.
She is remembered as, “an incredible community member” by Mutya and “a welcome sight whenever I was working or attending an event in the DTES” by Liisa. “We always had a few laughs,” Liisa wrote on Facebook.
The people at Heart of the City Festival wrote, “Thank you Debbie for your big heart, sense of fun and humour, and love and commitment to our community. We are going to really miss you. Your memory lives in our hearts.”
We wish all of Debbie’s family and friends peace. It’s a difficult circumstance and we are so sorry she is gone.