An Exceptional Woman Who Made a Difference: Jacquie Ackerly - October 29, 1947 - July 12, 2014

Jacquie Ackerly encouraged and helped many people. She advocated for years for those living in poverty, spoke at rallies and marches, and inspired all of us with her passion and eloquence. Many of us remember Jacquie as a friend, co-worker and mentor.
Jacquie was a member of TAPS’ Board of Directors from 1995 to 1999, and was President for two of those years. In 1999, Jacquie became TAPS’ first executive director, a position she held until 2001, after which she continued at TAPS as our public education coordinator, until 2005.
In November 1998, Jacquie spoke to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in Geneva. She attended as a representative of NAPO (National Anti-Poverty Organization) and spoke about the loss of the Canada National Assistance Plan, the National Child Tax Benefit, post-secondary education, unemployment insurance and human rights. Jacquie said at that time: “I am here to present the submission of NAPO on Canada’s shortcomings and failures in complying with the United Nations Covenant on Social and Economic Rights.” We wish Canada had listened.
We all admire and appreciate the work that Jacquie has done. She worked hard for social justice for all. Jacquie made a difference and all of us at TAPS will miss her.
 
A Memory of Jacquie
Jacquie commanded respect in many ways, but most noticeably, perhaps, by the very fact of her life experience. Despite the many hardships she herself faced in life, hers remained a tenacious commitment to social justice, and not once to my mind did she ever waver from the moral progress of an ideal, that being to realize the eradication of poverty throughout Canada and beyond.
My enduring memory of Jacquie, though, both as a friend, co-worker and mentor, was that she was never one to suffer fools gladly. Although, generally speaking, she always had an outgoing, gregarious, good natured personality and a razor sharp wit to match, you certainly never wanted to find yourself on the wrong side of history with her.
As part of what became a learning experience for me when I first started at TAPS in 1996, I can remember being summoned to her office on any number of occasions and being loudly scolded or reprimanded for what she deemed to be an “incorrect analysis.” Fortunately, I wasn’t alone over the years in getting what was admittedly a well-deserved dressing down where and when the occasion warranted. But, for every time that Jacquie might tear a strip off you, it was never personal, and her constructive insights and criticisms never once interfered with our friendship over time.
Jacquie was truly an exceptional individual in the modern context. Social responsibility and the betterment of others were at the very heart of her being, and I think it fair to say that, unlike so many of her peers, she never needed a university education to learn how to give a damn.
…a life well lived!
   John Cooke
 
A Song for Jacquie
It’s something we knew would happen sooner than later. We hoped against hope for some sort of miracle, but it wasn’t meant to be. “It was her time,” said Eric, her devoted partner of over 30 years.
Jacquie and I sang a lot of songs together because music and theatre were one of our acts of resistance. We pushed against the walls of oppression and poverty and hopelessness with the power of music. And because of that, I’m moved to ask of myself, “What song shall I sing for her?”
It was on a blustery day in 1996, October 17th to be exact, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, when we sang “Soup” in front of the bank at Yates and Douglas. Later, while we tried to warm up in a local café, we hatched the idea of the “Corporate Golden Piggy Awards,” a tradition that lives to this day.
Music was part of the struggle for the homeless. It’s central to the “New Year’s Day Poor People’s Levee Tour,” another tradition Jacquie helped create.
I asked Jacquie what she wanted me to sing for her after she was gone. I still can’t think of just one song, nor could she. So I guess I’ll just sing them all.
   Art Farquharson