A Supporter of Pacific Peoples’ Issues for Three Decades
It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden and unexpected passing of Victoria-based Peter Gardner in December 2020. He was among South Pacific Peoples Foundation/Pacific Peoples’ Partnership’s longest-serving members, and, being a teacher of economics in a number of developing countries throughout his career, he took a particular interest in how small South Pacific nation-states might be able to survive and thrive in the face of significant challenges.
Peter was recruited to the organization in 1992 by Dr. James Boutilier, one of the founders of SPPF and still President Emeritus of PPP. At the time, they worked together as fellow academic colleagues at Victoria-based Royal Roads Military College. “I felt that our small South Pacific organization demanded uniquely dedicated and engaged Board members and patience in very large measure,” recalls Dr. Boutilier. “I saw Peter as an ideal candidate for the SPPF Board, and someone who would be dedicated to staying in the organization for the long haul.”
“Peter had the detailed knowledge of what we then called the Third World. He knew about small economies and the realities of international development. He was pragmatic, cheerful in the face of daunting organizational challenges, and was a superb team player — something that simply cannot be underestimated! He served faithfully on the Board several times, and in various committee roles until he passed away.”
Executive Director, April Ingham, adds her own recollections: ”From the start of my tenure with PPP, Peter was always eager to help wherever needed. He stepped up over and over again, plus he attended and supported all of our events and activities whenever possible. He even provided a note of regret if he couldn’t participate. Peter and his wife, Alison, started to actively donate to PPP in the 90s and they also became founding members of our Phil Esmonde Legacy Endowment Fund, which was set up to ensure PPP’s sustainability.”
“We will never forget the support and strategic visioning that Peter facilitated with our PPP team in 2014-2019. He worked passionately to help us achieve our mission and long-term sustainability. He believed fervently in our work and in the connections we foster for knowledge and cultural exchange between diverse peoples across the Pacific.”
April concludes, “Once when Peter and Alison were volunteering with PPP at our 2014 Rising Tides conference, Songhees Elder Joan Morris voiced her concern that “they are elders and should be respected not put to work!” But Peter wouldn’t have it any other way – whether it was putting up tables and chairs, serving food, delivering a workshop or deliberating as a Board member about future PPP projects, it was his nature to jump in wholeheartedly!”
Until he died from a stroke at age 74, Peter continued teaching students from many parts of the world and working for social and environmental charities. He was a remarkable, caring person and an outstanding educator who will be sorely missed by his family, by the thousands of Canadian and international students that he taught and counseled over a four-decade career, his colleagues, friends, and the Greater Victoria community. Our deepest condolences to Alison, his partner in life, and a PPP lifetime contributor herself, and to their lovely family on this tremendous loss.