Brian Michael Staszenski
June 1, 1951-May 21, 2017
With deep sadness and grief, we announce the passing of Brian Staszenski of Thorsby, Alberta. A sudden and devastating heart attack took his life.
Brian is survived by his sister Donna Staszenski and brother-in-law Hans Smits of Edmonton, and his aunts Helen Kurylko and Bernice Wasylishen of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Olga Wasson of Los Angeles, California. Brian is survived as well by a large extended family of cousins and their children who reside in Winnipeg, Lacombe, Calgary, Langley, Vancouver, Toronto, Palm Springs and Hawaii. Brian was predeceased by his father Bronislaw (Brownie) Staszenski and his mother Josephine (Wasylishen), grandparents, uncles, and aunts who inspired him. Brian was always happy to visit with members of his extended family at Christmas and other events that brought people together to celebrate relationships and memories. There are so many good family stories that will sustain us even as we mourn Brian’s loss.
Brian was born in Winnipeg on June 1, 1951. His family moved to Prince Albert in 1962 and then Edmonton in 1966 where he completed high school and university. In his youth, Brian loved football and played for the Edmonton Wildcats. After university in Edmonton, he spent a year in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he completed a master’s degree in community development. Since 1982 Brian has lived on a beautiful forested property near Thorsby bordering the North Saskatchewan River. There he honoured his Baba’s, Gigi’s and parents’ tradition of organic vegetable gardening. He loved his animals—dogs, cats and horses—and those animal companions gave him unconditional love in return. He was most at peace at his home in Thorsby in his garden and by the river and on annual hiking and horseback trips into the mountains of the Willmore wilderness.
Brian’s own deep attachment to his land was a reflection of his commitment to environmental justice and sustainable approaches to our lives on earth. His courage in advocating for the environment was inspirational to many. In 2000, he was recognized as a “Hero of the Planet” by Time Magazine for his environmental activism. The citation for the award described Brian as a “radical in the best sense of the word” noting his efforts to promote practical solutions to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. The award offered a description of Brian to which we can all give a knowing smile: “a 48-year-old bear of a man brimming with can-do enthusiasm, will try almost anything to help push humanity toward a greener future.”
His friends and colleagues in the environmental movement attest to Brian's fearless advocacy for a greener world through organizations such as the Alberta Wilderness Association, the Environmental Resource Centre in Edmonton and other programs including those promoting environmental education. Most recently, he consulted and created plans for energy conservation in buildings.
We welcome family and friends to an open house tribute to Brian’s life on Sunday June 18, 2017 from 1-4 pm at the Old Timers Cabin, 9430-Scona Road (99 St). Formal presentations will start at 2 pm.
A private family memorial will be held in Winnipeg on Thursday August 17, 2017.
In remembrance of Brian, please donate to environmental and social justice advocacy groups or programs that share Brian’s vision for a better world.
Cremation has taken place. Thank you to Trinity Funeral Home for their support and assistance.
To Erin and all of Brian’s Family. Sending positive energy to you all at this time of Brian’s death. I am sending you positive energy because of all of my memories of Brain, the most enduring was his positive energy which he shared freely. From hiking in the Willmore Wilderness to his work in energy conservation this is the most enduring memory I have and will hold in his memory. He was generous in his encouragement and enthusiastic about the causes he believed in. He was a fine soul who added to positively to Alberta and Nationally through is enduring efforts in the protection of the environment. I will miss him and send my dearest regards to all his family and friends. With respect and friendship, Mike Hanna
To Donna and Hans,
Deepest Sympathy for your loss. It is hard to imagine a life without someone you love; but memories of times spent together will heal the emptiness. Love and hugs
So sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you both.
My heart extends to all of Brian’s family, friends and colleagues. A stalwart of the enviro movement in Alberta, Brian committed his life to educating youth, preserving wilderness, phasing out coal and transitioning to renewables. He was a courageous and visionary voice. I thank him for changing the world… RIP Brian.
I’ve worked with Brian for a number of years. He was extremely knowledgeable, wanted only the best results for Alberta, and he he was completely committed to the cause. I have lost a true friend. Alberta has lost a great champion. The earth has lost an ally.
I was shocked when I read of Brian’s death this morning. I have know Brian since 1979 and have spent many rowdy and fun times in Ottawa and elsewhere fighting the good fight and have visited him at his place several times. He has also visited me over the years. We were fast and deep friends even though we lived 2000 miles apart. I will miss his calls and emails and bemoan my loss of being able to call him randomly when I need help and inspiration. I loved him like a brother.
baruch dayan ha emmet
Brian was a treasure and it is a loss to the family and friends, and to environmental progress to have him leave us so suddenly. In an interview I did with Brian in 2013 for my PhD research into what motivates environmental behaviours, Brian talked about the big issue: our inability to give up flying. He talked about how hard it is to minimize flying, how it disconnects us from our networks and yet how important it was to do! I am grateful for the option to share stories of Brian with you through Facebook and other methods than flying! Sending thoughts of celebration as you prepare for the June 18th memorial.
his beautiful place one spring and we were working in the garden and I had never seen such an awesome asparagus patch. We talked about its history, picked it and ate it. Brian died just as the first asparagus was coming up in my own garden where I have finally achieved my own homesteading dream: a garden that is now reaching the size of Brian’s and that was my dream when I was at his place. I feel he is here with me, talking to me through the asparagus! And I mean really talking to me. Since the news of his death, I have thought about him every time I go out to my wonderful garden.
Brian was also a man of great generosity. When my dad died in 2009 I was a mess and Brian let me stay with him to recover. I was there for over a month, in the dead of winter, knitting, thinking and wondering how in hell he could be charging around outside in -30 in a sweater! And he worried about me. For all his gruff exterior we all know Brian was a man with a huge heart. Rest in peace my friend. Love to you, your family and to all of us who carry memories of your life.
I loved working with Brian. So much energy, a sense of humor, big hearted, non-judging. He did good work with the School Energy Conservation Program and so many environmental initiatives in the 80’s and he inspired me as an environmentalist.