In Memory

Barry Sullivan

Barry Sullivan

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09/10/13 12:10 AM #1    

Bill Wedley

The following is from the Hansard records of the BC legislature on March 22, 1989, one day after Barry passed away.

The House met at 2:06 p.m.

HON. MR. BRUMMET: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House of the tragic passing yesterday evening of Barry Sullivan, QC, and perhaps to use the occasion to say a few words of tribute to Mr. Sullivan.

Barry Sullivan came to the attention of the Ministry of Education during his successful prosecution of the Robert Noyes child sexual abuse case. Previously he had headed a committee to advise the government on amendments to the Human Rights Act. During the summer of 1986, Mr. Sullivan prepared an interministry report on sexual abuse of children by school board employees, and that report set the direction which government has taken in dealing with the abuse problem.

It was Mr. Sullivan's manifest concern for children, together with his professional ability, that subsequently made him the government's choice to head the Royal Commission on Education. He combined the objectivity of a non-educator with the trained mind of a lawyer. As a one-man commission, Mr. Sullivan wisely assembled a broad-based support staff of educators and others.

From the start of the royal commission's work, his common sense and human qualities were displayed in his direction of the research. As well as holding formal hearings, he made sure that he and his staff went out to meet the public in their places of work and study. In one instance, he even held a public meeting aboard a Gulf Islands ferry, and he certainly went out of his way to talk to the students in the system.

Before many months had elapsed, it became evident that he had succeeded in eliciting widespread enthusiasm for the work of the royal commission. It is a tribute to his abilities and his personal integrity that in the midst of strife and much cynicism, he was able to establish his credibility and his genuine interest.

Mr. Sullivan's health began to deteriorate during the course of his research, yet he continued to devote himself to the work to the limit of his strength. His personality animated all his staff. He was assisted in particular by Dr. Arthur Kratzmann, who became Mr. Sullivan's deputy and oversaw publication of the report. To Dr. Kratzmann, the professional staff and the technical staff, we owe a great deal of thanks.

Barry Sullivan leaves a memorial that many would envy. A Legacy for Learners, as his report is titled, suggests many improvements in our education system. The wide acceptance it has already received is a testament to his wisdom, his common sense and his love of children.

On behalf of all British Columbians, I extend our sympathies to Barry Sullivan's widow, Dawne, and their four children: Lianne, Lana, Ryan and Shannon. I also wish to recognize and thank the family for their significant contribution, because I know that Mrs. Sullivan read much of the material, assisted and was able to give the input of a mother and children into the report. So I wish to recognize that and thank them for their work and contribution to the royal commission as well as their support for Mr. Sullivan.

A Barry Sullivan memorial bursary fund is being created. Details will be provided shortly, and contributions in lieu of flowers have been requested by the family. The funeral service is tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. in Vancouver.

I know, however, that the major tribute to Barry Sullivan will be an education system that meets the emerging needs of the twenty-first century. His lasting memorial couldn't be better expressed than through the title of the royal commission report, A Legacy for Learners.

Perhaps the Speaker can, on our behalf, convey the sentiments of this House to the Sullivan family.

MR. JONES: We on this side of the House also wish to express our regrets on the untimely death of Barry Sullivan.

Although best known for his work in education in British Columbia, Mr. Sullivan had a successful 14-year career in the legal profession. As well, he served on the B.C. Utilities Commission. In 1982, after only ten years at the bar, he was appointed to be regional crown counsel and was responsible for many of the high-profile prosecutions in this province. He was described by Denny Boyd in September 1986 as the top lawman in the province, in terms of effectiveness and high-profile prosecutions.

Despite the royal commission's slow start after his appointment to it, his personal, warm and human style eventually attracted a strong public response to that commission and gave credibility to its work. Mr. Sullivan became a symbol of the end to a very negative past in education, and a symbol of hope for the future.

I think everybody knows that as commissioner he set up a very rigorous and demanding schedule of hearings and meetings in every corner of this province. I had the privilege to attend a number of those hearings and was most impressed with his incredible patience and sensitivity to all those who wished to be heard by the commission.

Barry Sullivan made an important contribution to British Columbia, particularly in education, and as the Minister of Education said, his legacy is symbolized by the title of the royal commission report, A Legacy for Learners. I know the House wishes to express to the family of Mr. Sullivan our sympathies and condolences on behalf of this House to a very special British Columbian.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank both members. A proper message will be sent by the Chair on behalf of all members.

09/20/13 01:28 AM #2    

Bill Wedley

The Classess of '58 Memorial Bursary in Honour of Barry Sullivan is supported by contributions from our classmates.  Although contributions are made in memory of all deceased classmates, Barry Sullivan is identified for special honour because (1) he made exceptional contributions to BC education through his Royal Commission report (2) he was instrumental in teaching and reform and (3) his early death was on the committee's mind when the bursary was established. Since 1999, we have suported 15 recipeints (abourt $1300 each). 

Besides our Classes of '58 Memorial Bursary, there is a BARRY SULLIVAN, Q.C. MEMORIAL BURSARY SOCIETY that administers a bursary program for students enrolled in a BC post-secondary institution. The following quote comes from the information form put out by the Sullivan Society.

Barry Martin Sullivan, Q.C. (1940-1989), was a loving husband and dedicated father of four
children. In his short professional life, Barry Sullivan accomplished many things. His skills
as Counsel in the courtroom and teacher in criminal law classrooms were legendary. His
endeavours were characterized by diligence, commitment, a sense of imagination, and a
steadfast desire to make things better for kids. In addition to this, his contributions to our
Province were many. Originating from his research and investigations on a high profile court
case, Barry Sullivan wrote a report and recommendations on the tragic subject of Child
Abuse that led to the development of an inter-ministry coordinated and sensitive approach to
mitigating the occurrence of child abuse in public and private school classrooms. This work
also led to Sullivan’s appointment as Commissioner on Education and the report A Legacy
for Learners which will stand forever as a key step toward the improvement of education at
all levels in British Columbia.

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