This letter was sent to the AV News on January 29, 2024 and published in the February 7, 2024 edition and published online.

Dear Editor,

Usually the words come easily but it has been hard to write about the recent tragic passing of two people.

You may have known Mike Stewart. He was a passionate and incredibly skilled builder, engineer, and environmental advocate. You likely saw him around town on his bicycle, even at his advanced age. He volunteered with the WCVIIHS and always had a smile and funny joke or a story of far flung adventures as a younger man.

You did know of Councillor Helen Poon. She was a truly special person and personal friend from whom Port Alberni benefitted through her connections to people who may not have otherwise looked toward our City. It should also be remembered that she was the first councillor known to be trans at that table. 

These two special people also shared something in common: A commitment to using their own personal means to help house and support disadvantaged people. Helen provided affordable housing in Vancouver and Port Alberni, many dedicated to gender diverse tenants. Mike provided space in his own home and personal support for individuals that many would have turned away. Both always saw the best in others regardless of their plight. Both Helen and Mike had and used their indomitable spirits and positivity to take care of and shelter others regardless of the personal risks.

I will miss them both. May they rest in peace and may we all apply their care and empathy.

Chris Alemany

Whistler 2018 – Dinner with Helen Poon, Councillor Sharie Minions and her husband Colin
Mike Stewart with his awesome recumbent trike near Little Qualicum Falls
Mike on his bike close to home.

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