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May 1, 1941 - December 3, 2016
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
Van Morrison
The Path John grew up in Toronto (for which he never quite forgave his parents) with an English-Canadian dad, Murray, and French-Canadian mom, Suzanne. His French- Canadian roots prevailed and at 15 he moved to Montreal to live with his beloved Aunt Therese Barré and attend Loyola High School. Thus began an enduring love affair with La Belle Province. High school was followed by two reflective and formative years in a Jesuit seminary (perhaps an early indication of a bent for the law) and then a return to Montreal for a B.A. at Loyola College, now Concordia. After his B.A., Africa beckoned and John headed to Ghana for two years of teaching high school as a CUSO volunteer, an experience that shaped his life forever. This was followed by a year in Ottawa running CUSO's West Africa program, then off to law school (Dalhousie and Harvard) before moving to British Columbia in 1970 and practicing labour law in Vancouver for 20 years. Finally, founding and running Partners in the Horn of Africa, a Canadian aid organization based in Enderby and focused on Ethiopia where Ethiopians were "partners" in projects they chose for their communities. John spent a good part of the last 15 years living and working in Ethiopia, a country he loved and whose culture and people he greatly admired.
The Highlights Coming of age in Quebec during the Quiet Revolution and early years of the Peace Corps, developing a sense of social justice and seeing life as an opportunity for social change and an obligation to help others; raising 6 wonderful children (Kevin, Martin, Andrew, Spring, Joey and Tigist) and enjoying loving relationships with Diane, Marguerite and Woinshet; representing working people for many years and practicing law in the early days of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; arguing on behalf of trade unions for a broad interpretation of Canada's basic freedoms of association and expression; swinging dry flies across the Bulkley River for summer steelhead; spending months on end in the land of Prester John and learning so much about true "civilization" from the people of Ethiopia whose lack of material wealth allows them to treasure and nurture personal relationships; and 10 wonderful end years with Woinshet.
Final notes John was grateful for an early diagnosis of AML, which he chose to share with only a very few as he did not want to be treated differently because of his illness. The knowledge of his diagnosis allowed him to devote the last years of his life to family and friends and deepen his relationship with his 8 grandchildren and his Ethiopian daughter, Tigist, all of whom he was so proud. He left us with few regrets and a sense of gratitude for "a good run".
"My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return."
Oliver Sachs
A celebration of life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Riverside Community Hall on Trinity Valley Road, 10km east of Enderby.

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Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Dec. 17, 2016.
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
October 3, 2017
I was so sorry to hear of John's death. He was a true friend and a great, open soul, who made enormous contributions to Africa, both in West Africa during his years with CUSO, and later in Ethiopia with Partners in the Horn. He will be sorely missed.
Brian Slattery
June 7, 2017
I met Johnny when he joined our class at Loyola High School having just arrived from Toronto.Johnny WAS a free spirit (as pointed out by a fellow classmate, Jean Pothier), so we got on just fine. We had a lot of laughs in class, and outside,really a lot of good times together. I travelled to Toronto and met his delightful French Canadian mother and very funny Anglo father. What a pair! His aunt Therese here in Montreal was John's anchor, a wonderful woman.Johnny was a pretty good student,(as good as was necessary in those days)a great athlete,(he was the reigning 440(yards) champ at Loyola, this being the prestige track and field event. I spent my summers "up north" in the Laurentians at summer camps, and Johnny worked at Roland paper mills near St. Jerome so we got together on occasion and managed to get into trouble! Good times! Then all that changed when Johnny decided to join the Jesuit Order and left for Guelph to the Novitiate.
Johnny paid Anna and I a visit at our home in Beaconsfield about a year and a half before his passing. He was on a cross country tour with his wife, Woinshet on his way to the Maritimes. We kept in touch over the years,but realistically, geographically and otherwise(I was a dentist,he a lawyer, etc. etc.)we didn't keep in touch enough. I am so sorry to see Johnny go,the world will miss him.May he rest in peace.
Mark Wilkins
February 2, 2017
As Neil Sterritt said this was a lovely obituary. Baigent was a lovely man who managed to avoid a tete gonflee in spite of his remarkable talents. Time spent with him was always well spent and he always provided a welcome sanctuary from life's challenges. I will miss him but look forward to joining with others on February 4th to celebrate his life.
I would like to convey my condolences to his family and hope that with the passage of time fond memories will overwhelm the sense of loss.
Peter Ballem
January 27, 2017
The Galimberti's are very sorry to hear about your loss. John was a good friend of my eldest brother Joey, my dad, Joe and mother Ida. All six of us enjoyed his visit for dinner when he would share his ideas during the family debate. John left for the Peace Core in Ghana Africa when I was about 15 and we three girls were in awe of his contributions to his community and the world. And such beautiful grandchildren.
Let the light of Peace and the hope for a better world shine in the eyes of children and grandchildren around the world.

Peace and solidarity.
Mary Galimberti
December 22, 2016
John Baigent - well done Brother!
It is with a very heavy heart that I learned John Baigent had passed away at age 75 from Acute Myeloid Leukemia. John was a veteran labour lawyer that I worked closely with when I was staff at the BC Federation of Labour as the BC NDP government of Mike Harcourt reviewed the BC Labour Relations Code issues.

Working with fellow special advisors Vince Ready and Tom Roper, Baigent was one of the "Three Wise Men" who wrote the 1992 Recommendations for Labour Law Reform that substantially change labour law for the better in BC after years of Social Credit anti-union legislation.

But John was involved in so much more of BC labour relations work with unions across the province - he was a truly compassionate and unique individual whose wisdom was evident every time he addressed an issue. And he also made a huge commitment to the people of the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia, spending much time and money helping create important development projects there to improve lives in one of the world's poorest nations. A great trade unionist, a true humanitarian - rest in peace Brother - well done.
Bill Tieleman
December 21, 2016
What very sad news to learn that John Baigent has died. My deep sympathy is extended to his family and friends. John was a marvellous lawyer and did brilliant work for the BCGEU after we chose him and Marguerite Jackson to do the bulk of our legal work in the 1970's. His subsequent dedication to development work for the people was legendary and it was a privilege to support his work. I will never forget our lively conversations in his living room at Enderby. He and his work will be long remembered. May he rest in peace forever.
John Fryer
December 20, 2016
Ronald Angus MacDonald
December 20, 2016
He was God's own hustler and consequently my hero.
December 19, 2016
We are very saddened to learn of John's passing. We so enjoyed our conversations , especially our "dog" talks as we do love our dogs. I remember when John brought Partners to Enderby and it was difficult to deny his passion and love for the Ethiopian people and he brought the awareness that we could indeed make a difference to. We will always be grateful for his kind and generous assistance when we were faced with crisis.
Our heart felt condolences are with you Woinshet and all of John's children and loved ones.
Moe and Dave
Maureen Robertson
December 19, 2016
What very sad news. John was a fantastic guy. A brilliant lawyer and a true humanitarian. My sincerest condolences to his family and close friends.
December 18, 2016
My sympathy to John's family. Joyce Scotton
December 17, 2016
Johnny at the Jesuit seminary 2
Jean Pothier
December 17, 2016
Johnny at the Jesuit seminary
Jean Pothier
December 17, 2016
At the Jesuit seminary
Johnny and I met at Loyola High school and quickly became friends. We spent a lot of time together, evenings with Aunt Therese and with my parents who found him charming.
Johnny was a free spirit. We were boarders at Loyola, we got caught sneaking out of Mass (he made me do it) and we were grounded at the school for the weekend, it was not to be the last time.
We spent weekends at his family's cottage at Lac l'Achigan. For some reason (I lost a bet) I had to do all the rowing.
He surprised us all by joining the Jesuits. Kenny DesRoches and I visited him in Guelph. Driving home we were both impacted by the experience.
When I learnt that Johnny was leaving the seminar I invited him to come spend time with me at Powter's Camp in Saint Donat
Leaving for Ghana to work at CUSO, he made me promise to take care of his girlfriend. Much to his chagrin, she and I soon became very good friends.
When he came back from Ghana, he brought back a unique coffee table supported by three large hand carved elephants which was a wedding gift to us. He always did things in a big way.
The last time I saw him was when he was here for his beloved Aunt Therese funeral. We had supper with my family at the Chalet Bar B Q, a favourite hangout of ours.
We did keep in touch but now I regret not doing so more.
This spring I will dedicate to his memory my walk on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.
He was special, I will miss him.
Jean Pothier
December 17, 2016
This obituary is a lovely tribute to John. John was a legal advisor to us, the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en peoples way back in 1977 when we began our march towards what later became the Delgamuukwcase, and our 1997 Supreme Court victory. He was a good friend, and a respectful resident of the Bulkley Valley, where yes, he loved to fish for steelhead.

We will miss him,

Neil J. Sterritt
Neil J. Sterritt
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