Art Wright
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WRIGHT, Art 1939 - 2019 Died January 1 of Alzheimer's Disease in Victoria, B.C. Survived by his beloved artist wife of 48 years, Sylvia Bews-Wright, sister Marie Smith (Earl) and many nieces, nephews, surrogate daughters and honorary granddaughters. Educated in Political Science, Public Administration and Economic and Social Development, Art excelled in a 35 year span of Canadian public service as a Foreign Service Officer in Nigeria, Malaysia, Thailand, Tanzania and India, followed by serving as Ambassador/ High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Barbados and Zimbabwe. His interdisciplinary skills in encouraging citizen participation and leadership in sustainable development were broadly admired in these diverse and challenging settings. Art reflected: " I had this incredible privilege to work for over three decades at the delivery end of foreign policy and development in highly diverse urban and rural environments on three continents-incredibly, I was paid to learn from and work with amazingly industrious people in fascinatingly different and rich cultures". Art's broader interests in regional development issues coincided with those of the Canadian International Agency (CIDA) where he was appointed as Vice-President of CIDA's Asia Branch. Following his posting to Barbados/Eastern Caribbean he returned to CIDA as Vice President of Multilateral Branch followed by his final posting to Zimbabwe. By 1997, Foreign Service/ CIDA retirement beckoned and Art served as a director of the Foundation for International Training (Toronto), as Senior Associate of UBC's Sustainable Development Research Institute and as a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Peace and Conflict Management at Royal Roads University. When Art and Sylvia moved to Victoria, UVic's Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives (CAPI) was avidly awaiting to recruit Art as an associate. He successfully chaired a number of "hot topic" items, using his legendary deep commitment to inclusive and participatory approaches, the importance of listening, an unflagging respect for the value of human life and a deep appreciation for the diversity and interconnectedness of the human species. Art's fondest retirement endeavor centered on his creation of a course in Sustainable Development for the Canadian Field Studies in Africa Program. The hands-on course attracted Canadian university students to travel in old army vehicles across Kenya and Uganda under Art's tutelage for a semester of living and learning in tents, often surrounded by curious wildlife. For seven years (2000-2007), this annual interdisciplinary 'safari' was the highlight of Art's restless retirement years. Sylvia is deeply grateful to the Carr West staff at the Heights of Mountain View for the gentle, loving care given to Art during his time there. A Celebration of Art's life will be held at the at Uplands Golf Course, 3300 Cadboro Bay Road at 1 pm on February 2 . Before he passed away, Art willed his body to UBC for its continuing research into Alzheimer's disease. Donations toward the eradication of the terrible affliction may be made in Art's name to

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Published in Victoria Times Colonist from Jan. 11 to Jan. 13, 2019.
Memories & Condolences
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24 entries
September 30, 2019
Dear Sylvia,
Sadly, I have just found out that Art has gone.
Meeting you both in Dar-es-Salaam was such a delight. Fond memories of films outside in the garden, Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", and your Christmas cards from the red canoe!
Art's sly humour was always a treat.

Fika Salama,


Fika Salama
Jalna Hunt
September 29, 2019
I am late to learn of Art's passing.We had a very exciting time together in Tanzania when the KGB surrounded the CUSOTAN office because a Russian national was going to marry and leave for Canada with a Canadian volunteer.
My then partner and I stayed a week with Art and Sylvia when he was HC in Barbados.Always great conversation and humour.
Best to Sylvia!
Barry Fleming
February 2, 2019
Dear Sylvia,
You may remember us on the trip to China in 2001. We have happy memories of our chats with you & Art.
We hoped to attend the gathering today, but are now unable to do so.
Please accept our sympathy and best wishes to you
Patrick & Diana White
Patrick & Diana White
February 1, 2019
Dear Sylvia: I look forward to seeing you tomorrow and want to offer deepest sympathies from all of us, including my mother. I have such fond memories of my time working with Art at UBC. I still marvel at the discovery of how our lives were so intertwined with your family, the Mackay family and my sister in law and her husband... such synchronicity. Art had a huge impact on my life and so many others. He was a fine man and I was privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with and get to know him. May he rest in peace. Gisèle
Gisèle Yasmeen
January 27, 2019
Sylvia, I am sorry for your loss. These must have been difficult days for you.

When I created the Canadian Field Studies in Africa Program I had hoped to offer a range of course that would allow students from across Canada to participate. We offered both Arts and Science course in a diverse range of subjects. But what was missing was a course that could address the extreme contrast of the poverty the students saw in their travels to the relative comfort in their own lives. What hope could we hold for Africa?

In a large part the answer came when Art Wright offered to teach a course in Sustainable Development. It became one of our foundation courses for the program.

Perhaps it was hidden for all those years when he worked in the Foreign Service and CIDA, but Art was a natural teacher. Many of the skills that no doubt served him well in his earlier occupations, served him equally well in front of a classroom. He was organized, as clear in his speech and presentation as he was in his thinking. But Art also had an underlying kindness towards students that made his course popular.

When listing all his accomplishments it is sometimes easy to forget the man himself. He was a great safari companion, and a pleasure to share a scotch and a joke at campfire at the end of day. And lurking underneath that proper exterior there lived a bit of an adventurer. I could tell you about the time some of us crossed the Chalbi Desert, visited Koobi Fora and snuck into Ethiopia, or the time we took our trucks up the top of My Kulal but then that would be "telling tales out of school".

I'll not meet the likes of Art Wright again.

Donald MacDonald
Director (1992 - 2004)
Canadian Field Studies in Africa
January 26, 2019
A truly fine gentleman who made the world a better place.
Ann Dale
January 21, 2019
Both Kay and I are very sad to hear of Art's passing. We met Art and Sylvia when I took up my first posting in Bangladesh in 1979. Throughout the years Art was always ready to offer support and advice on issues that arose at work and on adapting to life overseas. He was extremely generous and always met you with a smile. He was a wonderful man and will be truly missed.
Bob Woodhouse
January 17, 2019
Art, you will be missed. Our 2 lengthy conversations about development, research, books, politics, and more were a highlight of my doctoral research phase. Thank you forever, for mentoring me through that period of deep inquiry. Your intellect, compassion and generosity continue to inspire. Who knew that when we met in the early 1990's in Zimbabwe that our lives would cross again, and for me in such a profound way? Art, you will be missed.
Carla Funk
January 15, 2019
I first met Art at the airport in Dacca when he arrived as my new Head of Post. We last met when he visited Thailand as Asia Branch VP in 1986. Over those years he was a leader and a mentor who inspired us with his warmth, his kindness and his sense of humour. He gave us the courage to make the right decisions. I remember him with affection.
David Keithlin
January 15, 2019
Sincere condolences to Sylvia and Art's extended family. It was a pleasure to know, converse with, and deal with Art in Bangladesh and, subsequently, in CIDA. And Sylvia, I still enjoy 2 paintings you helped me buy in Bangladesh that proudly hang in our living room and upstairs hallway. Thanks to you and Art for some fond memories long ago.
Garry Comber
January 14, 2019
Please accept our deepest sympathy. May he RIP.

Richard & Leslie Gold
January 13, 2019
My condolences to Art's family and friends. It was an honour to work with him.
January 13, 2019
Bill Anderson
January 12, 2019
Sympathies à toute la famille. Mon premier VP à l'ACDI, une politique de porte ouverte et toujours prêt à conseiller ses jeunes chargés de projets. Il a influencé beucoup de personnes.
Pierre Héroux
January 12, 2019
I was fortunate to have known him early in my career. What a wonderful gentleman. He immediately made you feel welcome.
Robin Ruggles
January 12, 2019
I remember meeting Art when he was the High Commissioner to Bangladesh and I was the visiting Project Officer for Burma. We maintained contact over the decades and he was always gracious and interested in what I was doing. He always made people feel valuable. His generous spirit and kindness to all he met will be missed
Susan Brown
January 12, 2019
I first met Art Wright when he came to the University of Victoria in the late 80s to participate in a conference with women from several Asian countries and from B.C. He was VP in CIDA at the time and a speaker during the conference. He came a day or two early and sat in on some sessions so that when it came his turn to speak, he really related and spoke directly to the issues of concern to the participants. Art listened well in every situation and was a star in the diplomatic service primarily because he treated every person he met with respect and made each one feel that their views were important to him, as indeed they were. He made time for people however busy he was. Art made you proud to be a Canadian. I got to know Art and Sylvia better when they moved to Victoria and did what they had always done, made themselves a part of the community by contributing, participating and sharing. What a team!
Our heartfelt condolences go to Sylvia and all Art's family. He is missed!
Isabel Lloyd
January 11, 2019
Mes condoléances à toute la famille. J'ai très rarement rencontré un homme aussi exceptionnel et aussi sage que Art.Il m'a inspiré le plus grand respect.
André Potvin
January 11, 2019
Please accept my deepest sympathies.
Ralph Roberts
January 11, 2019
He was an amazing High Commissioner in Barbados and I was privileged to be posted there at that time. Mary Kurus
Mary Kurus
January 11, 2019
Art was a gentle soul with a great sense of humour. Kindness was his signature and warmth softened the air when he was engaged in conversation. He will be missed by ALL who worked with him.
Tom Bradley
January 11, 2019
I met Art first when he came to establish in 1967 to first Canadian Embassy in Thailand. I was engaged in the Kingdom as a CUSO volunteer. I appreciated his interest in and support for CUSO volunteers there. I later met him on various occasions during his work at CIDA. Before entering CIDA, I worked at Canada World Youth/jeuneese Canada Monde. Art was kind enough to host me at the Hign Commission in Bangladesh during my mission to visit the participants and negotiate the next year's protocol d'entente with the government of Bangladesh. Art took the opportunity of my visit to one of the villages where the participants where situated to escape the official Bangladeshi protocol and experience a village without heavy Bangladeshi protocol officers "accompanying" him. I always found him very down to earth and approachable despite his wonderful career in the public service. My sympathies to all his family. He was a wonderful person.

Paul McGinnis. Ottawa
January 11, 2019
To his family: Please accept my most sincere condoleances. Art has been a mentor for me. After 10 years at CIDA I was at Treasury Board Secretariat when he invited me back to head the new Canadian Aid Program for the Philippines. Art inspired and respected everybody around him. He was a man of a few words and whatever he said made you reflect. I valued his advice and enjoyed his sense of humour. It was a privilege for me to be part of his team and I will always keep my highest regards for him.
André Vinette
January 11, 2019
I have only fond memories of Art during my time at CIDA. He was a terrific boss to work for in Multilateral Branch - intelligent, encouraging and pragmatic. I will miss him dearly. Condolences to his family and friends.
Wayne MacDonald
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