GAFA members met recently for the first time after Chris Straw’s sudden death. The Zoom meeting began with quiet greetings, all of us knowing how deeply the tragedy of Chris’ passing has impacted everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. At first, no one knew quite how to talk about Chris and the deep loss we felt.
Then one brave soul offered up a memory of Chris, one which involved a GAFA Town Hall meeting. Chris assumed nearly superpower status that day by virtue of his ease in tackling a challenger of the GAFA position with reasoned argument and respect while simultaneously reorganizing a slideshow that had gone sadly awry. With that story, the floodgates opened and we all began to share some of our most vivid memories of Chris. Each memory added to the person we knew. Chris, the man who quietly facilitated the Gabriola forage fish egg research project, Chris the man who saw where help was needed in the community and took on fundraising responsibilities to keep others afloat, and Chris the leader who synthesized the work of GAFA, grew the opposition to proposed and present anchoring of freighters to include not just Gabriola but all the Southern Gulf Islands. He was tireless, humble, and gifted with the ability to speak truth to power.
When we had finished sharing, we paused for a moment and imagined Chris sitting with us. We
saw him grimacing, waving his hands at us and saying “ok, thanks…now”, pushing his glasses
down his nose looking at the next agenda item…. back to business.”
Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages will honour Chris by working harder than ever to make
his dream of Gabriola and the surrounding islands becoming free of freighter anchorages a
reality. Thank you Chris for leading the way.