Memorial Services for Chris Bearchell
Last updated: October 23, 2007
- Lasqueti Memorial Celebration A memorial party/wake for Chris was held on Lasqueti Island at the Lasqueti Arts Centre on Sunday, May 6 at 2:30 pm. The island community gathered to honour Chris, share stories, acknowledge their loss. Even in her "retirement," cb had a strong presence in the small community. She was loved and valued by many and her passing left many on the island in a state of shock and disbelief. There was a screening of the short video by Nancy Nicol which was made for the toronto memorial, and a photo of cb adorned the wall. There were lots of foods, flowers and drinks as Lasqueti residents paid their last respects to their dear friend.
- Toronto Memorial A Toronto memorial for Chris Bearchell was held on Wednesday, March 21, at 7:30 pm, at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, 3rd floor. The memorial featured a short video made by Nancy Nicol from interviews she did for her 2002 documentary, "Stand Together," about the early years of organizing in the queer movement which Chris figures prominently in. The first meeting to plan the memorial service for Chris in Toronto was held on February 27, 8 pm (Room 23, 519 Community Centre, 519 Church Street), organized by Coalition of Lesbian and Gay Rights Ontario (CLGRO) and Pink Triangle Press.
- In the News On March 1, the first news story about Chris's death hit the stands: "Goodbye to a queer pioneer: Chris Bearchell dies surrounded by her chosen family," by Annie Smith. (Xtra! West, Issue No. 353, March 1, 2007, pg. 11.) A big thank you to Annie for writing such a nice piece. The story was accompanied by a photo of Chris on the Lasqueti dock, taken by Jim Monk in 2004. (Thanks Jim!)
- Ottawa Memorial On February 26 at 7 pm, a memorial service for Chris was held in Ottawa (organized by Caroll Holland) at the SGI Buddhist Centre (237 Argyle Avenue, 2nd floor). There were 26 people in attendance including NDP MP Bill Siksay, who said he used to watch Chris and Harvey Hamburg discuss queer issues on cable TV when he was coming out, and he had told himself, "I want to be just like her." It was a very moving evening. Caroll Holland has promised to send full details of the event, along with photos, in the near future. (Read Caroll Holland's "Remarks in Honour of Chris Bearchell.")
- Witness Cremation On February 21, at 3 pm, Chris was cremated at the Vancouver Memorial Services and Crematorium, (5505 Fraser Street, Vancouver) located on the grounds of the aptly-named Mountainview Cemetery. Her cremation was witnessed by Will Pritchard and myself, along with Chris's sister, Ruth and Chris's nephew Neil. The funeral director kindly agreed to read a few verses and a psalm at Ruth's request. It was good for some of Chris's friends and relatives to meet. Ruth told us stories about Chris's love for climbing the mountains that surround Fernie, BC (in the East Kootenays) where her grandmother lived. During family trips to Fernie, Chris would always scramble up the mountainside with her parents while her younger siblings had to wait below for their return. Ruth burst into tears when she exclaimed, "Chris was my hero. I don't think I ever told her that." A large bouquet of roses red for love and yellow for friendship was placed on Chris's casket as it entered the crematorium, at which time Will and I toasted cb with a swig of her favourite single malt scotch (16-year-old Lagavulin).
- Lasqueti Meditation On February 20 at 7 pm (the third day after her death, in accordance with a particular Lasqueti tradition), there was a talk about Chris followed by a meditation at Judy Peternard's on Lasqueti, BC.
- Reading in New York City On Monday evening, February 19, at an event organized by $pread Magazine ("Illuminating the Sex Industry") in New York, Melissa Ditmore (Network of Sex Work Projects Secretariat and member of Prostitutes of New York) read an entry about "Allies" from her newly published Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work. Melissa used Chris's story to demonstrate the great strides made working with allies. Chris was a shining example of how someone who is not a sex worker can be an important ally to sex workers in the struggle to gain their human and labour rights. Chris demonstrated that her genuine dedication to this cause included that understanding that her role as ally was to assist not to direct or control. Melissa dedicated the event to Chris.