Chris Dagg had a distinguished career that brought him numerous awards and the widespread admiration of people in Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Canada. He was especially valued at Simon Fraser University where he held a range of key international cooperation posts for 30 years.
Chris was born in Vancouver on July 12, 1940, growing up in what was then a very provincial town. In 1962, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of British Columbia. Not one to play it safe and always drawn to other cultures, Chris joined the Foreign Service in 1966, in time for the worst of the Vietnam War.
He was part of Canada's team on the multinational body monitoring the mostly mythical cease-fire between North and South Vietnam. Chris was in Saigon in 1968 on the night of the Tet Offensive. Hearing gunfire, he climbed to the Continental Hotel rooftop to have a peek, quickly retreating when he realized US troopers in the street below might take aim at his thin silhouette, mistaking him for a Vietcong.
Somewhere in a dusty Ottawa archive moulders his unpublished manuscript on Canada's efforts in the region. His contribution was recognized in 2002 when he was awarded the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal for his role during the Vietnam War. Back in Ottawa in 1970, Chris met young Australian teacher, Lindsay Maclean. They married in 1973 and soon found themselves in Indonesia, eventually raising two children there.
With his quick grasp of the language, Chris became the 'go-to' expert on the country's Byzantine politics and development challenges. In 1982, he spent a memorable evening with Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, showing him the 'real Jakarta' once they had given the slip to the security detail. The escapade got him into hot water with Indonesian officials until Trudeau singled him out for warm thanks as he left.
Chris was still in Indonesia in 1987 when SFU hired him to head its pioneering project to build Faculties of Science in 5 universities in the eastern part of the country. Until his retirement in 2015, Chris was central to SFU's international engagement, including most recently the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development project.
To mark his legacy, SFU instituted in 2015 the Chris Dagg Award for Impact in International Sustainable Development.
Source: This is an excerpt from the obituary featured in the Global and Mail by Lucy McNeill.