Brenda Parkinson’s death was a significant loss to the community, but the legacy she left behind will live on for years to come.
Parkinson, a Sooke district counsellor, died of cancer on June 28. She was 63.
Parkinson’s love for the arts was demonstrated through her years of advocacy work in Sooke.
“If there is one thing I think we’ll always remember Brenda for is how she made Sooke a more beautiful place,” said former mayor Wendal Milne.
“She was very proud of her community and her objective was always to beautify Sooke. She was responsible for the artwork on electrical boxes and bus shelters and when Communities in Bloom came around, she took a leading role. It was just natural for her to take it on.”
Milne said it was Parkinson’s skill in inspiring others to work together to make Sooke a more beautiful community that will be an important part of how she’s remembered.
He recalled how Parkinson was chosen to bring together the disparate factions of the community’s arts community and how effective she was in getting people to work together toward the common goal of promoting the arts in Sooke.
“She was a tremendous supporter of the performing arts, the music, visual art … all of it,” said Linda Gordon of the Sooke Art Council.
“Her enthusiasm and belief that Sooke could be a more beautiful place that promoted the arts was infectious and those beliefs will live on long after her passing.”
Lee Boyko, the executive director of the Sooke Region Museum, said Parkinson’s legacy comes as a result of her boundless energy.
“We have a night market because of Brenda. She started talking to me one day, and she just made it happen,” he said.
Parkinson also was instrumental in promoting projects like the Amber Academy and the Sooke Harmony Project.
But Mayor Maja Tait said beyond Parkinson’s impact on the arts community, she undoubtedly left another legacy behind.
“I think she’ll be remembered for how she inspired others, not just in the arts, but in life,” Tait said.
“She supported young artists and children and urged them to pursue their dreams. She would tell them to follow your dreams and ideas and demonstrated that in her own life.”
That positive, inspirational approach carried over to her role as a marriage commissioner, Tait said.
“I remember how one couple was set to be married and the weather was just horrible. There was such a storm and the bride was so disappointed,” Tait said.
“Brenda went to the bride and told her that there was never a bad day to get married and that she should ‘laugh in the wind and dance in the rain.’ I’m sure that’s a bit of advice that the bride still remembers. It’s a legacy I’d be proud of.”