Tribute to Bill Curry, (born January 12, 1943 ) one of PGS’s staunchest supporters
With the unexpected death of Bill Curry, Oct 2015, Physicians for Global Survival lost one of its staunchest supporters. Dale Dewar, former Executive Director of PGS, his wife of almost 47 years and their three daughters lost a loving, gentle and caring husband and father. He lived in Wynard, SK where he rooted himself firmly in his organic garden, his Quaker spirituality and his activism. Bill was passionate about issues of justice, environment and nuclear weapons, including and especially issues around uranium mining. He was not only passionate, he acted.
In 2009 Dale and Bill were jointly presented the Global Citizens Award by the Saskatchewan Centre for International Cooperation
Those on the PGS list serve will miss the interesting pieces of news, which Bill would locate and post. Those responsible for Turning Point will miss his background editorial support. Although many PGS members may not have known Bill, nevertheless, his loss to PGS will be felt.
Colin Stuart’s reflection of Bill Curry
I first met Bill Curry in Saskatoon in 1974. My wife and I had accepted work with “One Sky”, a community based media and popular education project which was focused on what were then called “third world” issues. Bill was our co-worker and the one who welcomed us to the real world of both urban and rural Saskatchewan. Bill, at work and in life, challenged me, and continues to challenge me in terms of my commitment to change for peace in this world.
Looking back I can say with certainty that Bill introduced me to an activist life. One of my most vivid memories is of Bill standing in bitingly cold weather in the main plaza near the war memorial on 23rd street in Saskatoon. I was present too but only because of Bill. We were holding signs protesting the opening of uranium mines on Indigenous Peoples’ land in Northern Saskatchewan. Bill was handing out leaflets explaining how uranium mining contributed to the production of Nuclear weapons. A few would accept the leaflets, but many would walk on sometimes leaving a trail of harsh words behind. A very few would stop and Bill would engage them in discussion in his warm, quiet and persuasive way. At the time I felt Bill had sort of dragooned me into doing this, challenging me to match my actions to my rhetoric. Protesting in Saskatoon in the 1970’s was not the most welcome activity and was certain to bring opprobrium. At one point the local media, with the connivance of the Provincial government, labelled us “the most dangerous leftists in Western Canada” a characterization which was laughable given Bill’s Quaker background. In retrospect and at a deeper level I’m sure we were kind of dangerous to the prevailing social and political acceptance of Uranium mining. Bill took all this in with a degree of equanimity that bred confidence and quiet hope in others.
Although Uranium mining and nuclear weapons were at the top of Bill’s list of concerns, Bill was far ahead of the rest of us in grasping both the political and moral implications of other issues. I can think of many: Bill understood the implications of pipeline construction which led us to support the Dene in opposition to the MacKenzie Valley pipeline. He immediately saw the importance of the coup in Chile and led us to act to welcome refugees into our homes. Bill was able to see the link between Minimata disease in Japan and mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows, which brought us to support a Japanese visit to Grassy. Bill was superb at this kind of connect-the-dots analysis and then acting on it. I can only say thank you to him for teaching me this. It is at root a spiritual and compassionate kind of work which centres on those who are most marginalized in our society and peacefully struggles to change our hearts and our actions to overcome the oppression and conflict. Again Bill, thank you. I am going to miss our long and wonderful discussions and having you there when it comes time to act.