by Cameron Kroetsch, Rob Fiedler, and Curtis Biehler
As many in the North End know, we all lost a good friend and neighbour when Shawn Selway left us on February 7, 2022.
It’s been hard. Even though we knew he was battling cancer, his infectious stubbornness and resilient spirit always made it feel like he’d be with us for many years to come, no matter what.
And even if it was just through sheer determination, we somehow still expected him, the trickster he was, to find a way around it all; to see a loophole that the rest of us had missed, so he could stay to fight for a little while longer.
Though he often joked about being new to the North End, moving here more than 30 years ago with his partner Sheri, many have said that it felt like he’s always been an integral part of the neighbourhood’s fabric.
In part, it’s why we nominated both Shawn and Sheri for North Ender of the Year in 2021, an honour they so justly received (even if they really didn’t want the attention).
That ability to find a needle in a haystack, to unravel a deceptively written paragraph, or to ask the most important question in the room, were among some of his most admired qualities. We all felt better knowing that he had his eye on something.
In short, it’s because we trusted him. If there was a meeting about a plan or project happening in or near the North End, you’d find him there, taking notes and getting answers.
He was intensely curious, impossibly thoughtful, and willing to keep the discussion going for as long as it took (even after almost everyone had left). He always volunteered to do the heavy lifting, never shying away from controversy, willing to put himself on the line.
In recent days, a 2016 piece that Shawn wrote for Numéro Cinq Magazine has been making the rounds again. Shawn ends the piece with this paragraph, “And that is what it’s like to live here: always behind, never ahead; forever hopeful, often deceived. Love in vain. But I just can’t help myself. And you would wind up just the same, my friend, if you lived here.”
We’d like to argue that Shawn’s love was, in fact, not in vain and we’re glad that he wasn’t able to help himself. He inspired us, motivated us, and made us appreciate our city even more.
A part of Shawn will live on at each neighbourhood meeting, each discussion about the big issues facing our city, and when people decide to take a stand and demand something better and more just be done. We hope to see you there too, keeping his legacy alive.