Joanna Gallivan-Smith 1982-2016
Growing up in McCauley inspired passionate commitment to working with marginalized people.
“I grew up in the inner city of Edmonton, Alberta in the 1980s. My family had little in the way of money, but we were part of a community that was rich in its commitment to social justice, community development, spirituality, and political engagement. My three siblings and I were steeped in a world view that taught us to value difference, learn from challenges, and to question the status quo.”
Joanna wrote this in April 2014 in her personal statement application to do a master’s degree in Conflict Analysis and Management Program at Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C.
Joanna Gallivan-Smith died on June 9 surrounded by her loving husband and family. For the past year Joanna had handled her cancer diagnosis with grace and dignity and had shared this journey openly and with humour on her blog: somethingkindofcancery.com.
Joanna lived with passion and conviction and she linked her experiences growing up in McCauley to her commitment to working with marginalized people in Dublin, Edmonton, Victoria, and Vancouver. Before moving to Fort McMurray to be with her new husband, Sean McKinnon, Joanna had managed a 62-unit supportive housing program in Vancouver. She also worked for a decade in frontline positions, such as supporting women leaving jail, women transitioning from a shelter, and people moving into new housing.
Reflecting on this experience, Joanna wrote: “I have consistently witnessed responses of resilience, humour, and wisdom as people face the reality of living with the effects of trauma, poverty, addiction, and mental illness. This has shown me both the deep strength that we hold as individuals, and the incredible capacity this strength creates when we work with others to address personal, social, and organizational challenges.”
As passionate as she was about social justice, Joanna knew how to have fun. She had an infectious laugh and she loved to gather people together to celebrate, ensuring that everyone was included.
Joanna will be deeply missed by her husband Sean; mother, Mary Gallivan; father, Gary Smith; her three siblings, Luke, Ruth and Miriam; and her many friends, colleagues, and extended family.
Through the Edmonton Community Foundation, Joanna created a lasting legacy to address homelessness in Edmonton and Vancouver. People can tribute through www.canadahelps.org, selecting the ECF and then clicking on the “Joanna Gallivan-Smith Celebrating Home Fund.”