A Port Alberni woman who broke barriers as she ascended her political career in British Columbia has died.
Gillian Trumper, former mayor of Port Alberni, first female Freeman of the City, Liberal MLA and coroner, died Friday, Oct. 11 of complications from renal failure. She was 83.
Trumper served as an alderman (now called councillor) for the City of Port Alberni from 1981-83, when she ran for mayor and won. She served as mayor from 1983 until 2001, including a stint as president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) in 1996-97. In 2001 she ran as a B.C. Liberal for the Alberni-Qualicum MLA seat and won.
Trumper served as coroner in a contract position with the Ministry of the Attorney General from 1982-2001. She was a school board trustee from 1973-81 in Port Alberni and served on numerous political and volunteer boards, including with the Port Alberni Rotary Club.
She was instrumental in forming a Sister City bond with Abashiri, Japan, an international relationship that thrives today.
Community members are remembering Trumper as a person who was kind, generous and giving toward her community. “Gillian contributed an incredible amount to our community and the lives of people who live in it,” Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions posted on her Facebook page.
“Looking back, I feel incredibly privileged to have spent my childhood and teenage years with her as our leader.
“Without even knowing, she had a huge impact on my life, and how I viewed my own ability to enter the world of politics. She was one of the first people to suggest I should run for council and when I decided to run for mayor she was the first signature on my nomination papers,” Minions added.
“I have no doubt Gillian influenced many more young women and leaders in our community well beyond her time in elected office.”
Trumper’s contribution to the community has been “extensive and ongoing,” said Theresa Kingston, who worked for Trumper and counted her as a friend.
“It was through her leadership the BC Games came to Port Alberni,” said Kingston, who volunteered as the director of protocol under Trumper for the 1992 BC Summer Games. “Us hosting all four BC Games is a legacy to this community that Gillian was a big part of.”
“She touched so many different facets of this community both in her political life and personal life,” Kingston added.
The Port Alberni Fire Department has lowered the flag in front of the fire hall to half staff to honour Trumper’s death.
“Gillian was never one to boast of her good deeds but many were the recipients of her kindness and generosity,” said longtime family friend Sonja Drinkwater, who shared a birthdate with Trumper. “She preferred to help others anonymously, not to collect praise. She had a green thumb, loved to go sailing, spending time with her family, friends and pets.”
The Port Alberni-Canada/ Abashiri-Japan Twinning Society shared a message of condolence to Trumper’s family on its Facebook page. “(Gillian) and Kobun Ohbayashi were instrumental in the creation of our Sister Cities,” the post read. “She was extremely passionate about our Sister Cities and we will never forget her unending support and dedication. May she Rest In Peace.”
Trumper was pre-deceased by her parents and husband (Dr. Michael Trumper). She is survived by her four children, Owen (Shannon) of Melbourne, Australia; Carolyn (Jim) of Red Deer, Alta.; Michael (Ronda) of Calgary, Alta; and Trish (Michael) of Victoria; five grandchildren and two step-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Margaret Dangoor, of London, England, as well as two sisters in law, numerous nieces and nephews.
A public celebration of Trumper’s life is planned for Friday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Italian Hall Events Centre, 4065 Sixth Ave. The family asks attendees to wear something bright and colourful.
— With files from Sonja Drinkwater