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In Memoriam – Alison Whitmore

The incomparable Alison Whitmore passed away from a 9 month battle with cancer on April 23, 2020. Those of you who knew her, appreciate that Alison was indeed a force of nature. A coordinator at Coquitlam Continuing Education for ten years, Alison was a devoted source of compassion and support for the immigrants and refugees that attend the ELSA/LINC classes in the district. Colleague Jo-Ann Dykstra (pictured below with Alison at the TESL Canada 2017 Conference) mentioned that Alison “would take the time to visit every LINC class at both locations weekly … just to drop in and let everyone know she was there for them.” School principal Sarah Husband added that “Alison had a strong vision and became a strong voice locally and provincially for the needs of new Canadians. She had insight… and an incredible capacity for program and policy development.”

Alison took her voice to ELSA Net / LISTN and sat as board president from 2014-16 during a transitional time for the sector. She then sat on the BC TEAL board from 2016-2017 to lend her voice on behalf of settlement language providers in the province. Having worked with her in both these capacities, I can attest that she was a true mentor, a valued friend and a trusted ally. She would always offer a smile with her ever present “get up and go” attitude. Never losing sight of the ultimate goal, she remained passionate about supporting newcomers to BC in the best way possible. If that meant fighting for the programs and policies that would better serve these populations, then bring it on!

Her example taught me fortitude and attitude could comfortably coexist with humor and a great sense of fashion – Alison never disappointed. She was unflappable, generous, and dependable.

Thank you for your empowering ways and exuberant disposition Alison, you were a ‘difference maker’ who will remain in the hearts of many!

Donations towards a bursary fund in Alison’s name are being accepted. Please get in touch with Jo-Ann Dykstra ( for more information.

Brenda Lohrenz
Former LISTN/ELSA Net (2004-16) and BC TEAL (2016-18) Executive Director