Capilano University instructor Michael Markwick (centre) receives Community Commitment Award from the District of West Vancouver for his steadfast drive to provide outreach services to the city’s most vulnerable.

Michael Markwick is passionate about creating dialogue. The father of five and Capilano University Communication instructor has been actively teaching and promoting social change on the North Shore for vulnerable residents for over twenty years.

“It’s about building a free and democratic society. I teach a lot about democratic communication – how we can face problems in a democratic fashion and solve them together,” he says.

For the past nine years, Markwick has been heavily involved in the creation and organization of the Dundarave Festival of Lights, which has raised over $275,000 since 2008 for the Lookout Society’s North Shore Shelter.

“One of the Festival’s partners, Burstin’ With Broadway, set out to raise $1,500 for the Shelter this season. So far, they’ve raised $4,200,” says Markwick. “One of our communication goals is to create a safe space to talk about homelessness, and through these donations it really demonstrates that the wider community gets that this is an issue, and they are willing to embrace this problem and work on a solution.”

Markwick’s involvement with this and other organizations such as the Metro Vancouver Alliance and Emancipation Now led to the District of West Vancouver presenting him with a Community Commitment Award for Community Engagement on November 16, 2016.

“Michael keeps giving a voice to those who need it in our community,” Councillor Craig Cameron said while presenting Markwick with his award.

Teaching and community work wasn’t always a part of Markwick’s career plan. In the early 90’s, he was a member of the senior management of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, on a fast track in the Government of Ontario. After getting married in 1994, he kept an un-coerced wedding promise to his wife, and relocated to raise their family in West Vancouver.

“A series of happy developments led me from a career I thought I wanted, to the fulfilling life I lead today. Receiving this award was such an honor, and felt like validation to me that my career path is what it was meant to be,” Marwick says with humble pride.

His vision for the organizations he is involved with is strong and clear: sanctuary housing for women to live in their own communities, and providing shelter spaces that include children so families don’t have to face separation.

Markwick’s passion and enthusiasm for supporting the people in the most vulnerable situations is contagious. “It is possible to look at tough challenges with courage and creativity. It is possible for us to have affordable non-market housing on the North Shore, especially for first responders, teachers, etc. We also need to have sanctuary housing for women fleeing abuse, and families who have lost their homes. Our community shows its strength in how we care for our most vulnerable. I’m really hopeful for the future.”

Submitted by Communications & Marketing
Written by Sarah Coull