DEREK "PEACEWALKER" YOUNGS
June 16, 1940 - March 18, 2011
Our beloved friend, my dear husband Derek, has passed into the light. He was a healthy and vital man and his passing was sudden and unexpected. We were together here at our home in Victoria when it happened.
I met Derek 25 years ago, and we became friends in 2004, embarking on the first of many journeys together. We married last summer. We felt so fortunate to have come into each other's lives, traveled to so many beautiful places, and worked on so many exciting creative projects together. There are no regrets, nothing left unsaid.
Derek was born in England during World War II during an air raid, and went on to work for peace his entire life. In his early teens, Derek emigrated to Canada, enjoying a rich life of service from a young age, volunteering for Big Brothers and the John Howard Society. He worked with ex-inmates for years before studying massage therapy, moving from Ontario with his two children and partner Lani Kaito, who would remain a life-long friend. Together they were instrumental in opening BC's first alternative health collective, the Integrated Health Centre in Vancouver.
In 1986, while living on Galiano Island, Derek took part in a nine-month walk across America, the Great Peace March. He never looked back, walking over 25,000 km in total across Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Africa, Japan, and other countries. In 1992, he fell in love at first sight with Linda Ward, and they married in 1997. Derek maintained his massage practice, and continued to walk in different corners of the world, while Linda became a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 2001 they moved to the Sunshine Coast, where they enjoyed a peaceful life until her passing in 2007.
Derek wrote, in our yet unfinished book, "Dreams...are flexible, mutable, unpredictable. They take their own time, unlike goals." After learning about a little girl, Sadako, who died in Hiroshima as a result of the nuclear bomb in World War 2, Derek vowed to keep walking for peace, and to one day walk in Hiroshima, though he had a lifetime to get there, and the whole world to walk through. He also vowed to teach others how to fold the origami peace bird that has become an international symbol of peace since Sadako's story took place. Derek's dream came true. I was with him there in Hiroshima on the 60th anniversary of the bomb, at the statue of Sadako, with a heap of origami peace cranes.
Though he had slowed down in recent years due to a nerve condition that affected his feet and balance, Derek was still keen to walk. Only just a few weeks ago, Derek completed his last pilgrimage, a walk from our home in Saanich to Mile Zero, at the seaside in Victoria, where there is a statue of Canadian hero Terry Fox. This is the spot where Terry would have completed his historical run across Canada. On the statue a plaque reads: "Dreams are made possible if you try." After all Derek's walks, this one, though it was only 20 km in total, was one of Derek's most rewarding, as if, somehow he helped Terry Fox achieve his dream.
Derek felt blessed to have many friends and acquaintances world-wide. He was as touched and inspired by people as they were by him. As a man who was deeply at peace with himself, he was seen by many as a spiritual teacher. "Hoka Hey" is a Lakota Indian saying that translates, "It's a good day to die." Derek said these words often. He strove to live knowing he could have another twenty years, or only another twenty minutes. It takes a lot to hold this apparent paradox in mind, constantly letting go of attachments and fears, and facing life's challenges. He was THE most present individual I have ever met. None of his time was wasted. He always paid attention to the important things in life, but those things are not always serious. Light and laughter were essential to him. I can only hope that his boundless love and wisdom and humour carry on inside of me.
Derek was wide open to life's possibilities, and this includes death. Whether your own personal beliefs are religious, spiritual, scientific, all or none of the above, I invite you, friends of Peacewalker, to share your memories, your condolences, your words of wisdom using the form below.
The circle is unbroken.
In deep love and appreciation,
Carolyn Affleck Youngs