amherst memorial service

Constance Marie Decaire

Constance Marie Decaire








Celebration of Life

Thursday, February 29, 2024
1:00 PM
Riverway Golf Course
9001 Bill Fox Way, Burnaby, BC V5J 5J3
See on Google Maps


Obituary







a Photo of Constance Marie Decaire


Obituary for Constance Marie Decaire

January 3, 1951 – January 21, 2024


It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Constance Marie Decaire (known to all who loved her as Marie), who lost her fight with cancer on January 21st, 2024, in Vancouver, B.C. Marie is survived by her husband Robert Montgomery, sons Russell (Susan) and John (Simone) Decaire, grandchildren Hannah, Amy, Elisabeth and Alexander, her Aunt Shirley Hansen, cousins David and Karen Hansen, and friends for life Louise McLeod and Maeve Shrieves. Marie is also survived by numerous close friends, as well as, brothers and sisters-in-arms, that stretch throughout the B.C. labour community.

Marie was born in 1951 in Nelson, British Columbia, to parents Fritz and Rosalind Constance Hansen, who predeceased her. Despite living much of her life in the Lower Mainland, Marie was always proud of being a “Kootenay Girl.” She grew up riding horses, fishing with her parents, and roaming the wild shores of Kootenay Lake with lifelong friends Louise and Maeve. Marie attended Hume Elementary and Trafalgar High School, a year ahead of her age group, as she skipped a grade in primary school due to her level of aptitude. In this she demonstrated her keen wit and intelligence for which she would become known for in later years.

In her young adult years Marie, with a family to support, waited tables, tended bar, and worked as an Early Childhood Educator. It was in these years as a hospitality worker that she began to get involved in her union, becoming shop steward and volunteering for the labour aligned NDP. After Dave Barrett was elected in 1973, Marie worked as a Legislative Assistant for the NDP caucus. When the Barrett administration came to a close, Marie went back to waiting tables briefly before getting a job with the Hotel, Restaurant, and Culinary Employees Union Local 40, where she would spend the bulk of her career doing what Marie did best – fighting for the little guy – advocating for working people so they could have decent working conditions, wages, benefits and be treated with dignity and fairness in the workplace. Eventually, Marie climbed the ranks of her union and would be elected to a union leadership position.

For more than twenty years Marie dedicated herself to the cause of working people and the downtrodden, and was at times, a player on the stage of BC labour history. From 1981-2003, first, as a business agent, then as Secretary-Treasurer, Marie worked for Local 40, representing the hospitality workers of the province. Marie was ringside for the tumultuous events of the post-Barrett years and helped, with many others, in the organization of the Solidarity General Strike, which mobilized thousands of workers to successfully secure collective bargaining rights and fair working conditions throughout British Columbia. In the 90s, during the Harcourt and Clark governments, Marie was tapped by the BC government to serve with other labour leaders, as a special advisor to the Minister of Labour, to advise on the drafting of a new, fairer labour code, and to also serve as a labour member on the BC Labour Relations Board. Marie also served as an Executive Officer of the BC Federation of Labour and was recognized again by the government receiving an appointment as board member of the BC Pavilion Corporation. In addition, during her working years, Marie volunteered her time to help the needy and less fortunate and became the co-chair of the Labour Campaign for the United Way.

In 2010 Marie retired, for the first time, from local 40, but soon was not satisfied with a life at leisure and returned to work by becoming a Union Liaison Manager at Community Savings Credit Union. Marie’s job was to take care of the needs of the Unions that belonged to the credit union, and it was a job at which she excelled. As she was oft heard to say, “who would have guessed that an old trade unionist like me would be any good at this banking stuff?” During her time at Community Savings, she was also instrumental, in cooperation with the BC Labour Heritage Centre (BCLHC), in helping to secure the necessary funding for the landmark work of labour history, On the Line: A History of Labour in BC. After her second retirement at the credit union Marie continued to volunteer her time to the BCHLC, serving on their board and contributing to projects dedicated to preserving labour history and the stories of the individual workers. Throughout her lengthy career Marie was simultaneously a trailblazer for women in leadership, a warrior for workers' rights and selfless community member.

The achievements for which Marie was most proud, however, was the raising of her two sons, Russell, and John, which she did completely on her own. Marie, a proud and dedicated Mom, could often be heard to brag at first about her sons, then later her beloved grandchildren. It seemed to many Marie was happiest in the last 20 years of her life, having seen her sons grown, married, steady and successful, while also finding happiness for herself in her marriage to her loyal, and dedicated partner Rob. Rob and Marie’s Kitsilano home was filled for 21 years with the sounds of music, a succession of small dogs, and cheers and tears for their beloved Canucks. Marie enjoyed a good backyard barbeque (as long as the wasps weren’t on the prowl!), an occasional tipple and a good chin wag with family and friends.

As anyone who knew her could tell you, Marie was a loyal and dedicated friend, a person who could be relied upon in a crisis and would give unstintingly of her time and resources for someone in need. Marie was also fond of political discussion, off-colour jokes and a “good rant.” Marie’s distinctive, contagious laugh, her rapier wit, depth of humour, her grit, evident determination, and her accessible, warm compassionate nature will be sorely missed. Marie never could be considered wealthy in the conventional sense, but possessed riches beyond measure when it came to her friends – a list too long to catalogue here – people whom she loved, and who loved her back. To many of us who knew her, the shock of her passing has most assuredly laid us low; one of the best, generous and compassionate hearts we have known has been taken before its time. Yet Marie would not want us to wallow or weep for her, although we most certainly will for a time. Marie, whose vibrant laughter could fill a room, would insist we too should go about the business of enjoying life and laughing again. And so, to honour the indomitable, loyal, giving, spirit of Marie Decaire, that is what we, with love and lingering sorrow, must try to do. The room may seem emptier without her, the minutes longer, the days darker for her absence, but the best we can do to honor our beloved Marie is to carry on living and laughing – it is what she undoubtedly would have wanted.

Marie’s Celebration of Life will be held on February 29th, 2024, at Riverway Golf Course in Burnaby at 1:00 PM. All who knew and cared for Marie are welcome. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be given to the SPCA in Marie’s name. The family extends their heartfelt thanks to Colleen Jordan and Sharon Prescott, Marie’s dedicated friends, who have been invaluable in their assistance during the planning of Marie’s Celebration of Life.






Memorial Donations


In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be given to the SPCA in Marie’s name.

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Dignity. Respect. Simplicity.