Hundreds gather to celebrate the life of Marg Spina

By Chad Klassen
January 20, 2018 - 2:02pm Updated: January 20, 2018 - 3:53pm

KAMLOOPS — Saturday marked a day of celebration. While women were marching in the streets of Kamloops for equality, the community honoured a woman who fought so hard for justice and equality. 

Hundreds came out to the Calvary Community Church to remember Marg Spina, a former Kamloops city councillor and community advocate who made an incredible contribution to the city. 

"The number of causes she fought for were endless and we honestly can't put a number on it, there were so many," said Marg's oldest son Peter Spina, who spoke at the service. "All of you here today were witness to a special kind of person. I don't think anyone in our family could've ever dreamed of the impact this woman would have on so many."

WATCH: Marg Spina's Celebration of Life

The 66-year-old Spina passed away from cancer on Dec. 15, and Saturday marked her public memorial. Friends, family and former colleagues all gathered to reflect on the kind, loving woman she was. 

"I celebrate that I knew and got to work with Marg. I celebrate it every day," said city Councillor Arjun Singh. "What an amazing and wonderful person. Marg was a force of nature. A joyous and determined warrior for so many, often overlooked, causes."

Mayor Ken Christian, along with the other speakers on Saturday, acknowledged all of her contributions. From starting Giant Steps West, a program for children with autism after her youngest son Vincent was diagnosed, to running the Kamloops Food Bank to serving nearly three terms on Kamloops City Council, Spina did it all. 

"Today is a day of celebration of a life well-lived," said Christian. "To Ross (Marg's husband) and Peter, Christina (Marg's daughter) and Vincent, and the grandchildren and Marg's extended family, we want to thank you. We want to thank you for sharing Marg with a very grateful community."

Marg's brother John Carswell spoke as well, talking about her fierce love and loyalty to the family. Her presence, he said, was undeniable. 

"I always knew when Marg was around. It was like the scene of Mary Poppins when the old admiral sees the wind shifting before Mary flies in on her umbrella. When Marg appeared, things changed," he remembered. 

Peter gave a heartfelt, yet humourous, speech about his mother, following in the footsteps of Marg who had a great sense of humour. He remembered her great cooking, love of reading, singing and dancing, and her love of life. He said his mother taught all her kids to step into life and live it to the fullest, as she did. 

"She was the master of the hyperbole in that a mundane story or event could be always told with vivid colour and humour," said Peter. "No one else looked like my mother. No one else spoke like her. No one else sang like her, wrote like her. She was so original in the way she did things."

Peter also lamented that even in Marg's final year, and final her days of life, "she never lost her sense of humour or gave up hope." 

To top off the celebration, TRU President Alan Shaver and his colleagues presented Spina with an honourary Doctor of Letters, placing the plaque in front of her picture at the front of the stage. 

"I confer upon Margaret L. Spina the degree of Doctor of Letter, honoris causa," read Shaver. "Her memory will always be part of our university."

Rev. Bruce Comrie noted that "Marg had a huge heart, a huge heart for others and our lives and the community is better for it." Comrie said they are words we should all carry with us moving forward in the memory of Spina.

Spina touched so many lives, and the hope is she's inspired others to do the same. 

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