“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life,” said famous tennis player Arthur Ashe, and by this standard, Chartwell Cedarbrooke Retirement resident Heather Stewart truly has made life better for countless people.
The longtime Mission, British Columbia resident has made it her life’s work to promote a strong, sustainable community, as well as an empowering culture. Her decades of work and advocacy have given a voice to the voiceless, contributed to the social good and improved quality of life for all. This dedication to giving back was recently recognized when Heather was named Freeman of the City by the District of Mission.
A life of giving back
Heather has given back to her community in a variety of ways and constantly scouted new opportunities to use her skills, talent and knowledge for the benefit of others. She has served as the president and facilitator of Phoenix Education Services in Mission for 12 years, offering strategic planning expertise to local non-profits that were committed to improving social, cultural, economic and environmental sustainability. She also served two terms as the municipal councillor of the District of Mission, during which time she led a variety of initiatives to support the local community and create a strong social spirit.
Prior to these positions, Heather inspired the next generation to change their communities for the better as an instructor and department head at University College of the Fraser Valley, where she worked for two decades. A skilled communicator and educator who recognized that social sustainability is only achievable through constant awareness and community service, she made giving back accessible to all, inspiring young people to find ways that their unique skills and talents could be used for the betterment of society.
Never one to settle, Heather shared her skills with other local organizations at the forefront of community development. She is a founding member of the Mission Communities in Bloom Society and the current president and a charter member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Mission. Her past roles also include serving as a member of the Mission Historical Society, Mission Literacy in Motion, the Farmers Market Society and the Mission Rotary Club.
She has been a mentor and beacon of leadership in her community, inspiring generations of young women to give back to their communities, go after their dreams and achieve great things.
Heather received her Bachelor of Arts in English and History from Brandon University, and then completed a master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education at the University of British Columbia. A champion of the disenfranchised and under-represented, with a fierce conviction and passion for justice, Heather is a champion for gender equality, social responsibility, environmental stewardship and sustainable development.
She has enacted incredible change for the District of Mission and the surrounding area through her dedication to the social good and her welcoming and informed approach to progress. Stewart’s trailblazing efforts and gift for diplomatic discussion has earned her the respect of the district’s leadership and residents.
The Freeman of the City designation joins a long list of awards and honors that Heather has garnered. She received the Paul Harris Award from Rotary International and the Ruby Award from the Abbotsford Mission Soroptimist Club, and was a Mission Community Archives Paths and Pathfinders Program honouree. She was also named Citizen of the Year by the District of Mission in 2004.
Needless to say, staff and fellow residents of Chartwell Cedarbrooke are immensely proud of Heather’s outstanding achievements and glad such a deserving person has been named Freeman of the City.