It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since Russ Cook passed away.
Today, we’re remembering Russ, and we know you are too. Russ was a huge part of Minerva BC. As a board member, friend, and mentor, he changed our organization and influenced our lives with his generosity, thoughtful leadership and willingness to ask tough questions.
Some words of tribute from our Minerva community:
Russ recruited me to the Minerva board following a professional business meeting. I was struck by the way he talked about women, indigenous issues, and the moral imperative for us to do better. As a strong feminist who had studied these issues and engaged in activism my whole life, I was surprised to hear a man like him speak in this way. Russ showed me what true allyship can look like. He was one of the first privileged white men I met who was willing to do more listening than talking, and genuinely understood that his freedom was tied up with every other’s person around him. I will always remember him as a mentor, peer, and most importantly, friend.
– Zahra Rasul, Minerva BC Board Member
Russ Cook was truly the most honourable and highly respected person, who gave so much to his community and those around him. Russ always asked deep, thoughtful questions and listened intently as he sought to understand and gain more knowledge in his pursuit and personal journey of reconciliation. He recognized and freely admitted his privileges and treated all people equally, with sincere caring and kindness. Russ was brilliant but always lead with humility, humour and encouragement. His presence, wisdom and impact in our Minerva world is greatly missed and Russ remains an inspiration to us all. My thoughts and prayers go out to his beloved family.
– Michelle Louie, Minerva BC Staff
Serving as a board colleague of Russ was a privilege for me, and he taught me many things. I felt he brought all of himself to Minerva. He was strong, generous, creative, funny, questioning, optimistic, caring, and ultimately believing in each of us and our abilities. He challenged us to aim higher and he explained very simply why we might take a more rewarding path. If his views didn’t prevail he would push again and then accept the group’s decision gracefully – and quite likely in a while we would end up where he was suggesting! Russ had a great interest in the potential of young people, and was powerful in advocating for Minerva’s youth programs; and he also developed a greater and greater interest in the needs of and the potential for indigenous communities and their women leaders. He found a deep insight into the question of Reconciliation among indigenous and non-indigenous people. I think of Russ often. When I do, I have a clear image of him asking simple and powerful questions, and of my feeling excited about the potential that his questions opened up, and looking around the room to see that others felt the same way. Russ always faced forward, and helped me to do the same. He and I were two men among many women on the Minerva Board. Russ modelled how to be in that environment, and how to combine our strengths so that we all brought the best of us. I miss him.
– Bob Elton, Minerva BC Board of Directors
I only knew Russ for a short time but his leadership had a lasting impact on me. Russ embodied Minerva’s commitment to “combining our strength”. He was a true values-based leader who taught me to ask “why?” three times to get to the core of an issue. He also introduced me to his daughter Amelia, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with this past year. Amelia shares her dad’s intelligence, curiosity, and talent for storytelling. I am grateful for his contributions to Minerva and the impact he had on our organization.
– Tina Strehlke, Minerva BC Staff