Gareth Shearman, after a lengthy battle with cancer, died, October 14, 2013. He spent much of the last year working to ensure that Victoria Free-Net could continue in his absence.
Gareth was an educator and community network practitioner with over 40 years experience in local, national and international arenas. For much of his career he worked as an educator in the pubic school system and in educational administration. His early involvement with computing was in research in Computer Assisted Instruction and the development of education networks. He was involved with the founding of a number of educational and community computing organizations in BC. He held a BEd degree from the University of British Columbia and an MSc (Ed) degree from Simon Fraser University.
In 1992, he was instrumental in establishing the Victoria Free-Net Association — Canada's first Free-Net — which fostered a sense of electronic community and introduced people to the internet. Gareth was also founding president of Pacific Community Networks Association, president of Telecommunities Canada since 1998, and active in the British Columbia Community Connectivity Cooperative (BC3), the Global Community Networks Partnership (GCNP), and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). These organizations continue their work as supporters of his deep commitment to all aspects of community development and digital inclusion through the uses of information and communications technologies. He and Mae were co-recipients of an Industry Canada Information Highway Leadership Recognition Award.
Gareth also received the John Webb Community Champion Award, from the Pacific Community Networks Association and the First Nations Technology Council, at the Summit of Technology, Resources, Opportunities, Networks and Growth (STRONG), May 7, 2013, Vancouver, BC. This award honors folks who share the same values and determination that John Webb had when it came to community networking
The local, national and international regard in which he was held is reflected in the following condolences we have received:
Sad to hear, but glad to still have a link that keeps me posted ... The Victoria Freenet was an inspiration to a number of us budding info-activists "getting tall" on the coast (can't say we grew up...). Gareth's passionate dedication to creating open, equal, access to the benefits of connectivity made its mark on me and many others who went on to take up arms for the cause. ... Like so many people who shape our world, Gareth's impact is, and will continue to be, measured by the thousands of people who never knew him, but whom benefited from his tireless, and frequently thankless efforts. ... Rest in peace friend, it is very well earned. MATT WENGER, CEO AT THINKTANK BY GROUPSYSTEMS, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, AND FOUNDER OF THE BC COMMUNITY CONNECTIVITY COOPERATIVE (BC3).
So sad and he will be missed by all. Won't be the same not seeing him at conferences / meetings. RIP Gareth I am proud to have called you a friend. JAMIE STERRITT, PRESIDENT OF SA'HETXW CONSULTING AND PAST VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE BC COMMUNITY CONNECTIVITY COOPERATIVE (BC3).
It is with sadness and admiration that the First Nations Technology Council acknowledges the passing of an inspirational friend and generous spirit. Gareth Shearman was recently bestowed the John Webb Community Champion Award from the Pacific Community Networks Association and the First Nations Technology Council for his leadership and untiring dedication to bringing technology benefits to BC communities. NORM LEECH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BC FIRST NATIONS TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL.
Great loss to all of us who value those who give their lives to make the lives of others better. ... Gary was a beloved member of the community who fought in the early days to get Internet access to those without it. He was a founder of Freenet, and a tireless worker for causes that benefited others. He will be sorely missed. ELLEN GODFREY, SENIOR CONSULTANT, DELTA PARTNERS CANADA, AND PAST VICE PRESIDENT, NAVIGATA COMMUNICATIONS (EARLY PROVIDER OF VICTORIA FREE-NET'S CONNECTIVITY), VICTORIA, BC.
It hurts a lot. I'm really sad. Please, send my deepest condolences to his wife and friend Mae. Gareth was a great, humane and persistent innovator. I still remember their trip to Barcelona during our global congress and the visit I made to Vancouver years after. We will always remember him as the best of Canadian community spirit. ARTUR SERRA, COORDINATOR, CENTER FOR APPLICATIONS ON INTERNET-UNIVERSITAT POLITECNICA DE CATALUNYA, BARCELONA, SPAIN.
Gareth has been an acquaintance of mind since the early 1990s when I began meeting him at conferences. Over the last 10 years or so I've had the pleasure of working more closely with him. Gareth will be missed! He gave freely of his time and added constructively to many community projects, not only those related to the Internet. He has left a good legacy to build upon. KEVIN BATTERSBY, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, VICTORIA FREE-NET, BC.
This very sad news. I first met Gareth and Mae in Barcelona back in 1999 and in 2009 we had the pleasure of hosting them at our place in Myrtleford after the Sydney ICANN meeting. Gareth was a true gentleman in all of the senses of that expression. Please pass onto Mae our deepest condolences. KEN YOUNG, COMMUNITY RESEARCH AND POLICY OFFICER, INTERACT, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.
Our thoughts and hearts too. Such sad and unexpected news. We have happy memories of their stay with us here in Australia as well as all those good GCNP times. Gary was a lovely kind unassuming man with a real passion and vocation for his lifelong community networking work. CLAIRE SHEARMAN, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.
A Mentor to us all. An example to follow. PETER FRAMPTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE LEARNING ENRICHMENT FOUNDATION, TORONTO, ONTARIO, AND DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA.
Sincere condolences to Mae, family members and friends. Gareth was truly a kind hearted and humble person. Yes we are lucky to have known him and to have shared in his passion to make a difference in the lives of many. Saskatchewan remembers. CHERYLYNN WALTERS, MARIE PREBUSHEWSKI, COLEEN STINSON, THICKWOOD HILLS BUSINESS AND LEARNING NETWORK (THBLN), SASKATCHEWAN.
Gareth will be missed. He was a great innovator, a man of honor and a true friend to all who were lucky enough to be know him. My condolences to Mae and all his family and friends.
CLARICE LEADER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MANITOBA E-ASSOCIATION, WINNIPEG AND DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA.
I am sad to convey the news as below that our colleague, friend and guide Gareth (Garry) Shearman has passed away. He has been ill for some time but bore it with very considerable strength. My very best wishes to his wife and partner Mae in the various enterprises that helped to build community networking in Canada. RIP Garry. MICHAEL GURSTEIN, DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA, VANCOUVER, BC
A passionate pioneer for a fully connected Canada for all - he inspired so many. My heart goes out to friends, family and of course, all of you. NORAH FOUNTAIN, ADVISOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA, ONTARIO.
My heart and thoughts are with everyone as we remember and celebrate a life well lived. Gareth's work and love is felt and to be thought of as so very important in all our lives. My one hope is that we each will honour Gareth in every way possible by continuing the struggle and using the tools and relationships he worked so hard to establish and sustain. Knowing that Gareth is with each of us today and each day forth will hopefully help us as we continue to do the work he pioneered and shouldered over the years. He truly is a hero to be honoured! BRIAN BEATON, RESEARCHER, FIRST NATIONS INNOVATION PROJECT, FREDERICTON, UNIVERSITY OF NEW BRUNSWICK.
It was amazing to work with Gary who was such a champion and community builder. He changed the face of community networking in the Pacific Region and across Canada. ...We met Gary in the early 1990s, before CAP at an economic development conference. We didn't know at the time, but there were some Industry Canada folks there a part of the design team for what was to become CAP. Gary came up to me and gave me his business card and said "Did you know you are a community network?" I didn't even know what a community network WAS! Such a pioneer. So glad we were able to honor him this year with the John Webb Community Champions Award. BEV COLLINS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PACIFIC COMMUNITY NETWORKS ASSOCIATION, AND DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
My thoughts and heart go out to Mae. Gareth will always be a light. RICHARD LOWENBERG, DIRECTOR, 1ST-MILE INSTITUTE, SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
I am very upset to hear this. Gary was one of a kind. Godspeed Garry. MICHAEL GILLESPIE. WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, PAST PRESIDENT, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA
He was and will always be a credit to humanity. JAMES VAN LEEUWEN. PINCHER CREEK, ALBERTA, DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA.
I just wanted to pass on my condolences to you on the loss of your friend and colleague Gareth. He was a remarkable man who made a valuable contribution to our collective access to technology in this region and beyond. I'm sure that you and your Freenet friends and colleagues will miss him a great deal. PETER BRAND, FIRSTVOICES MANAGER, VICTORIA, BC
It was with great sadness that I heard of Gareth's passing. He had been a long serving member of the ICANN At-Large community. He will be missed by the At-Large community and staff. Could you please send us his mailing address? We would like to send Mae our condolences. There are also some members of the North American Regional At-Large Organization who would like to send him flowers. HEIDI ULLRICH, DIRECTOR FOR AT-LARGE, INTERNET CORPORATION FOR ASSIGNED NAMES AND NUMBERS (ICANN)
I am truly saddened by Gareth's passing. He was an inspiration to our work for over 20 years beginning, for me, in Summer 1993 at Carleton University where the first Community Net conference was held. Since then he has been a gentle pillar of strength and encouragement. Please pass along my heartfelt condolences on the loss of Gareth. My thoughts are especially with Mae. DAVID MURDOCH, EAST RIVER, NOVA SCOTIA, DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA.
I'll never forget first time I ever saw Gareth. I was speaking at the 1993 (4?) community networking conference at Carleton University. Gareth was seriously fast asleep in the front row! "Hmm, who is that?" I wondered. Asking around a bit, I discovered that this was the already legendary (in the community networking world) Gareth Shearman, who, along with his wife Mae, had founded Victoria Freenet, the very first Canadian community network in Canada. I figured it must have been jet lag, not my less than stellar speaking skills that were to blame for the public 40 winks. I later realized that Gareth had that rare ability to quickly catch some sleep when he needed to and then just carry on, not having missed a thing. Oh, it is a rare person who has that gift!
That was many years ago, and all this time, Gareth and Mae never waivered in their commitment to community in general, to the community project they founded and all the things that flowed from it, including numerous organizations at the national and international level. It was a lifetime commitment that leaves huge footprint that touches a lot of people.
Now we must bid goodbye part of this team. Gareth was a leader who guided with a gentle, thoughtful hand -- kind, humble, never out for personal benefit. He was in it for the long haul and he was in it for the community. My deepest condolences go out to Mae to whom I wish to give a big, long hug. I am so sad that Gareth is no longer going to be guiding us in person. But he did leave all of us with wonderful memories and great paths to follow. These will continue to be part of our lives and our work and we will carry on.
But for a few moments, I would like to stop and acknowledge a deep sense of loss. MARITA MOLL, OTTAWA, DIRECTOR, TELECOMMUNITIES CANADA.