Charla Huber: Honouring the memory and legacy of Moralea Milne

It’s with sadness that I write this column on the passing of Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne. I met Moralea about 12 years ago when I was working as a newspaper reporter. Back then she wasn’t a politician, she was a community-minded volunteer, an environmental steward and an activist.

The first time I interviewed Moralea was at her house in Metchosin. I was driving a 1996 Dodge Neon that burned oil like crazy. It burned so much oil I needed to keep a litre or two in the trunk, because it needed a continuous top-up.

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The oil levels must have slipped my mind because as I pulled up to the top of her very steep driveway, my car seized.

I was nervous and embarrassed to mention my problem right away, so I entered her home and we sat and had coffee and proceeded with the interview. (After that day, I always tried to book interviews with Moralea in the morning, because she made the best cup of coffee.)

When the interview was over, and I was getting up to leave, I said, very embarrassed: “Do you have any extra motor oil?”

She went to her late husband’s shed and brought me a litre of oil. I poured it in my car and was able to drive off. This is in my Top 5 embarrassing moments of my career, and Moralea was so kind, she didn’t act as if I had any reason to be embarrassed. She did what she could to help me and said if she didn’t have any oil she would have driven me to the gas station. That’s just the person she was.

Moralea made friends with everyone, from young budding reporters, to families, to seniors and everyone in between.

“I am so saddened that Coun. Moralea Milne has passed,” said Premier John Horgan. “From her unwavering advocacy for the environment, to her steadfast commitment to the relationship with the Scia’new First Nation, Moralea served her community with care. Metchosin and British Columbia have lost a great friend, and I will miss everything about her.”

I always refer to Moralea as my champion. She was always in my corner, supporting my work and reminding me of what I had to offer to the community. A lot of my confidence has come from Moralea’s kind words of encouragement.

Once, she read a Facebook post I’d written on the importance of non-Indigenous people participating in National Indigenous People’s Day. Moralea called me and asked me to speak at the upcoming Metchosin council meeting during public participation. Later, council put forward a recommendation to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to make June 21 a statutory holiday, so everyone would have the opportunity to participate.

We were both on the District of Metchosin and Beecher Bay Reconciliation event committee in 2017, and a few years earlier, Moralea played an instrumental role on the memorandum of understanding between the two communities.

“My condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the family in this time of need. The people of Beecher Bay will miss her down-to-earth nature,” said Chief Russ Chipps of Beecher Bay First Nation. “She treated everyone equally and she will be sadly missed by all.”

A couple of weeks ago, I learned a workshop I pitched was accepted by UBCM for its annual conference. Presenting at UBCM has always been a goal of mine, and I was excited to let Moralea know. She always spoke so highly of UBCM conferences and the experience of having all municipal mayors and councillors together sharing ideas. I know she would have attended my session.

Moralea selflessly gave back to the community and helped mentor young people such as myself, instilling in us the importance of being a part of the community. Her community involvement and volunteerism inspired me to step up and do more for my community.

“Moralea, as a dedicated community volunteer herself, truly appreciated and valued the volunteer responders, both fire and emergency program,” said Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop. “She supported our initiatives, planning and activities; she appreciated that we responded to situations others would not.”

We both attended the B.C. Community Achievement Awards in April. Each of us had nominated people we respect and admire, and both were selected for awards. Moralea was always looking out for others and helping them receive the recognition they deserve.

The memorial service for Moralea Milne is 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, at Metchosin Municipal Grounds, 4450 Happy Valley Rd.

Charla Huber works in communications and Indigenous relations for M’akola Group of Societies.

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