Laverne Mitchell Lewycky of Dauphin, Manitoba passed away on Monday, August 3, 2020 at the age of 74 years. His involvement academically, politically and as an ordained minister was much like the life of Abraham Kuyper, Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905. Laverne sought to emulate the servant leadership of Jesus Christ. Mark 10:45 (NIV) states: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
Academically, Laverne has taught in all sixteen schools of the Mountain View School District and as a university/college professor at: Assiniboine Community College/Brandon University (Dauphin), Crandall University (Moncton), Heritage College (Hull), Algonquin College (Ottawa), Nipissing University (North Bay), University of Manitoba (Winnipeg), Canadian Nazarene College (Winnipeg), and Providence College & Seminary (Otterburne). Since the 1970s, as a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), he has helped countless Toastmasters International Club individuals across Canada achieve public speaking success. Additionally, he has been a Dale Carnegie Leadership Course Instructor, and Supervisor of Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD).
Although Laverne was born in Dauphin, his maternal and paternal grandparents were Ukrainian immigrants. Accordingly, immigration and refugee issues were of interest to him. He published peer reviewed articles on Canadian multiculturalism policies. In this regard, Laverne loved to point out the fact that the CCF-NDP have a rich legacy and heritage of welcoming immigrants and refugees into Canadian Society. J.S. Woodsworth, the founder of the party, wrote two very influential books on the immigration of foreigners into Winnipeg: 1) Strangers Within Our Gates and 2) My Neighbour. As a Christian Minister, Woodsworth based his first book on Deuteronomy 10:19 (KJV): “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” His second book was based on the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10--applicable to the welcoming of immigrants into Winnipeg at the turn of the twentieth century. In Laverne’s doctoral studies at Carleton University, he managed the Centre for Research on Ethnic Minorities, Etc. (CREME).
Politically, when Laverne was a Member of Parliament representing Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa (1980-1984), he served on the Special Parliamentary Committee on the Participation of Visible Minorities in Canadian Society. Following minority hearings across Canada, the Committee produced its seminal report, Equality Now! Rather than seeing Canada as a “tolerant” society, Laverne preferred to view others as “welcomed neighbours” as espoused by J.S. Woodworth. Laverne believed that more needs to be done by way of stay options in rural areas. First Nations should be “equal partners” in the fight against climate change, resolving boil-water advisories, fixing inadequate housing and improving access to education. As a Member of Parliament, Laverne voted for the constitutional recognition of indigenous rights. He wanted to resolve the issues raised by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and rectifying injustices.
Because of Laverne’s work as a parole officer in Stony Mountain and Headingley, he became very aware of the disproportional rate of indigenous incarceration. He sought to enhance indigenous relations by training former DCTI classmates from the McKay Residential School in his role as Timekeeper on the CNR Extra Gangs. Furthermore, Laverne worked as a Community Development Officer on the Saddle Lake First Nation, Alberta. The Chief during his time there was the Hon. Ralph Steinhauer who became the first Aboriginal Lieutenant Governor in Canada.
In addition to his week-day activities, as an ordained minister he provided leadership in Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick churches. For decades he was involved with the National Prayer Breakfasts in Ottawa, the mid-week Parliamentary Prayer Breakfasts on Parliament Hill, the Tri-City Breakfasts for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, as well as the Ottawa Civic Prayer Breakfasts to express gratitude and encouragement to Members of Parliament, councils, police, fire departments, first responders, etc. He had hoped to bring about such breakfasts in the Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa federal constituency. On an ongoing basis, fellow citizens were encouraged to “seek the peace and prosperity for the city to which they were called” (Jeremiah 29:7) and that “petitions, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2 (NIV). Continually, he shared his “life verse”, i.e. “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Laverne is now with his Lord and Saviour, as well as loved ones such as parents, Michael and Tillie Lewycky. Awaiting a reunion with him in heaven are his loving wife for 37 years, Lois, as well as his brothers/ sisters and their respective families: Dave (Rose), Orest (Delores) and Aaron; sisters: Virginia (Larry) de Vries and Bernice (Barry) Boyechko.
DUE TO COVID 19 RESTRICTIONS a Private Funeral Service was held for Laverne on Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 2:00 pm from the Sneath-Strilchuk Family Care Centre in Dauphin with Dave Lewycky officiating.
Interment followed in the Riverside Cemetery - Dauphin.
Should friends so desire, donations in memory of Laverne may be made to Parkland Crossing, Dauphin, or Gideons International.