Clague wins Thakore award

September 22, 2005, vol. 34, no. 2
By Marianne Meadahl



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Michael Clague, the former director of Vancouver's Carnegie Community Centre and a long-serving community educator and planner, is the recipient of the Thakore Foundation visiting scholar award.

He will receive the award on Oct. 2 at an annual event commemorating the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, at SFU's Images theatre.

Clague is being recognized for his commitment to community education and social development, and for overseeing the centre as a place of renewal, support and challenge to residents of the downtown eastside in their struggles for identity, health and employment. He retired as director in April.

Social justice and the challenges and possibilities for social progress have been Clague's life-long concerns. While a student at UBC, Clague set up the president's committee on student overseas service, placing students in Africa in the early 1960s. The initiative contributed to the founding of the Canadian University Service Overseas, or CUSO. After graduation he went to Toronto as the first national youth and education secretary for Canada's United Nations Association.

Clague went on to work with then Senator David Croll's special senate committee on poverty. He returned to the West Coast and continued to work in social justice and community development activities before becoming director at the Carnegie centre.

“Carnegie challenged every facet of my being, my personal and professional self,” he says. “Here in one place were manifest the cultures of the globe and the consequences of our domestic public policies that contribute to dependency and marginalization. My instinctive response in my first months was simply to listen, to build trust and relationships, and then to move along those avenues where we could do some things together.”

The efforts of residents led to such victories as saving the Carnegie library, securing social housing and a community garden, and new programs for drug users.

Clague is a past-president of the Canadian council on social development and is currently a director of the Carold Institute for the advancement of citizenship for social change.

The award is co-sponsored by SFU's institute for the humanities, in cooperation with the Thakore Charitable Foundation and the India Club of Vancouver.

It was created in 1991 by former SFU faculty member Natverlal Thakore to honour individuals who show a concern for truth, justice and non-violence in public life, qualities that Gandhi valued.

Clague says the award will put a spotlight on the work of the centre as well as the accomplishments of downtown eastside residents.

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