Introducing Derrick O’Keefe, Our New Membership Outreach Coordinator!

I am a writer, editor, organizer, and lifelong social justice advocate. I’m also Dad to two great kids, Gabriel and Camilo.

At age 20, head filled with impatience and indignation at our unequal world, I turned down an early admission to law school and set out on a working life that has included factory labour, union and community organizing, teaching, journalism, book writing, as well as communications and outreach work for a variety of advocacy organizations.

In the early 2000s, I threw myself into the peace and justice movement in Vancouver. For a number of years I served as the co-chair of the Vancouver StopWar coalition and the national Canadian Peace Alliance. Our efforts peaked in early 2003 with the largest demonstrations in a generation, which contributed to the federal government’s decision not to send troops to join the U.S.-led invasion.

In 2004, I was a founding publisher of an early online magazine named Seven Oaks, a nod to the rebellious history of the Métis Nation in the Red River territory. (My mother is descended from the original inhabitants of Seven Oaks House in Winnipeg, now a museum showcasing Métis history.) A decade later, in 2014, I was part of a team that founded Ricochet Media, a bilingual progressive publication that has grown into an award-winning outlet featuring investigative journalism and original reporting from across Canada. As well as editing and writing for a number of outlets, I’ve written two books: Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil? and A Woman Among Warlords, co-written with the incredibly brave and inspiring Malalai Joya.

As renters with two young children, my partner Andrea and I have been part of many campaigns for housing for all in Vancouver. In 2017, we were among the first members and organizers of the Vancouver Tenants Union. The following year, I joined a slate of progressive candidates in running for city council on a platform focused on expanding non-market housing and strengthening the rights of tenants.

The common thread tying this somewhat quixotic journey together has been a desire to contribute to collective efforts to make a better world. The Unitarian campus has always felt a bit like a home away from home, a space free of dogma and full of spirit and solidarity. My partner Andrea and I held our wedding celebration at the Hewett Centre, and we’ve both been part of organizing many events and social justice forums in the Sanctuary. This is a special place for us. It’s an honour to have a chance to contribute.

Contact me at moc@vancouverunitarians.ca


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