The co-operative movement received sad news on December 3rd. Donna Balkan, former communications manager for the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) from 2009 – 2013, lost her battle with an aggressive cancer. From her diagnosis to her passing was shockingly quick for her many friends and colleagues, the sudden loss has affected many. Donna touched the lives of people in many communities, most certainly in co‑operative circles.
To know Donna was to have experienced her energy. Things she loved and participated in wholeheartedly benefited from that energy, and co-operatives and co-operators in Canada certainly enjoyed her spirit and abilities to the fullest. It is with a lot of gratitude that those of us who worked with her will reflect upon her contributions.
The sadness of her loss, so sudden and too soon, is another matter. Donna leaves her beloved husband Jim McCarthy, who only recently convinced her to return with him to his native Nova Scotia to enjoy retirement with him. We offer our sincere condolences to Jim and his family and share the sadness of so much passion lost in all her wonderful communities. Her impact was tremendous.
For those of you who didn’t know Donna, she was a graduate of McGill and Carleton Universities and she worked more than 40 years in journalism and communications. At the time of her death she was employed as Communications Officer for the Dalhousie Faculty Association. Before CCA, Donna worked at the City of Ottawa, the National Union of Provincial Government employees (now National Union of Public and General Employees). She also worked for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Her passions extended beyond written words. Donna was an avid singer, actor, activist and gamer. A scrabble queen, say many. To all her friends in these communities we offer our sincere condolences and we will be discussing ways that we can celebrate Donna’s many contributions over the coming weeks.
A Celebration of her life took place on Thursday, December 15, at the A. L. Mattatall Funeral Home in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. There will be a Celebration of Life Service in McEvoy-Shields Funeral Home in Ottawa, time and date to be announced in the Ottawa Citizen. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated.