We at The Door Is Open are saddened to hear that Sue Blue has unexpectedly passed away on August 9, 2018. We offer our deepest sympathies to her family from Williams Lake and her friends for their loss, and especially thank her daughter, Kathleen, who brought her mom’s ashes to Vancouver for a final visit.

The Downtown Eastside community’s love for Sue Blue was evident as many shared their personal memories with Sue Blue during her memorial gathering. She was known to be giving, thoughtful, and loving, and she made each person feel special and supported. We certainly experienced this at The Door Is Open! She was always eager to help at our Arts & Crafts sessions where she once brought in her bannock-making supplies and made bannock!

Her story, which she shared in a Capilano University publication [1], is both heartbreaking and uplifting. She had a traumatic childhood and was sent to a residential school at a young age. When she saw familiar, old, painful patterns being repeated in her life, this courageous woman said “I need to break the cycle”. Recognizing that her school had left her almost illiterate, she looked for her strengths: “I like working with my hands, with pictures, with my voice”. She started beading as therapy for her broken wrists, and in trying to learn to make dreamcatchers, she invented her own loops, made from “things that people throw away, shoe laces, old clothes, wool…” She said, “My loops are my life, instead of writing or reading, I put it into my loops… they are my stories,” and she indeed wove beautiful stories out of her painful past.

Sue Blue was always ready to try something new, and in 2011 she participated in Vancouver Moving Theatre’s production “We are the People”, a musical celebration of creativity and perseverance of the Downtown Eastside [2]. She said, “I want to be in this project because I like to act, meet new people, and keep me busy and looking.  It helps me to let go of the fears I have inside.”

Sue Blue faced challenges daily, but always chose to try to bring joy to those around her rather than burdening others. We were privileged to meet her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughters when they came to Vancouver for her memorial service. It was apparent to all of us that they had inherited her charisma, generous spirit, and great sense of humour, and it gave us comfort to see the best of Sue Blue’s traits carried to the next generations.

[1] Invisible Heroes: Aboriginal Stories from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. North Vancouver, B.C. Capilano University. 2015
[2] http://vancouvermovingtheatre.com/archives/we-are-the-people