Tributes to David LePage highlight his wisdom, leadership and commitment to social justice

David LePage, who died in May, helped to shape the global social enterprise movement. Friends and colleagues are mourning his loss.

Tributes have flooded in from the global impact community following the death of David LePage, a key player in the social enterprise movement in Canada and champion of the ‘buy social’ movement.

LePage died on 16 May 2024 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 75. 

On the website of Buy Social Canada, a social enterprise that he created to promote ethical procurement and create ‘a social value marketplace’, LePage’s colleagues wrote: “When you worked or spent time with David it was a journey sprinkled with stories, teaching and coaching, and solutions-focused ideas. All shared with patience in a soft and thoughtful voice. Plus, a side of San Pellegrino, lemon and no ice.”

Social justice was central to LePage’s activities throughout his life. While working with community radio in the USA, LePage worked with indigenous people and travelled to India. He was a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam. After moving to Vancouver in Canada in 1999, he became a leader in the development of a supportive ecosystem for Canadian social enterprises. 

He was founder and chair of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada, co-founder of the Social Enterprise Institute, and he designed and was a professor in the social enterprise leadership programme since it began in 2014 at the University of Fredericton.

He launched Buy Social Canada in 2014. He also co-founded two social enterprises in Vancouver, Embers and Community Impact Real Estate. 

He was a board member, founding director and former chair of the Social Enterprise World Forum

LePage’s advocacy contributed to the formation of a social enterprise incorporation in Canada, the community contribution company, and to the design of the Vancouver Community Benefits Agreement Policy.

Liz, Tori and David LePage at SEWF 2023

David LePage with Buy Social Canada CEO Elizabeth Chick-Blount (centre) and COO Tori Williamson (left) at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Amsterdam in 2023

 

LePage retired from daily activities as managing partner of Buy Social Canada in February 2024, but remained chair. During the preceding years, he had passed the organisation’s leadership on to CEO Elizabeth Chick-Blount and COO Tori Williamson. 

After his retirement he began a Canada-wide tour to promote his book, Marketplace Revolution: from concentrated wealth to community capital.  

 

‘Truly kind and inclusive’

Elizabeth Chick Blount, CEO of Buy Social Canada, told Pioneers Post: “It’s hard to summarise in words the impact David had on me and on the sector. He was widely respected for his knowledge and drive, but on a human level he cared deeply about making the world a better place and doing so in a way that was truly kind and inclusive. With his sudden and heartbreaking passing, we are taking time to grieve, but this is also a collective call to action to continue his good work forward to fight for marketplace revolution.”

Gerry Higgins, managing director of the Social Enterprise World Forum, posted the following on LinkedIn. “The Social Enterprise World Forum board and team are deeply saddened by the news of the death of our former chair, David LePage. David was one of the founding directors of SEWF in 2008 and through a decade of leadership he was hugely influential in shaping the current global social enterprise movement. David leaves a unique legacy through his influence on Canadian policy and practice, and his wisdom and leadership has inspired many people around the world to strive for economic equality and social justice.

We are taking time to grieve, but this is also a collective call to action to continue his good work forward to fight for marketplace revolution

“We will all miss David, and we hope that his wife Kim, family members, friends, and colleagues will be comforted by knowing how much he was admired and respected around the world. David’s spirit will live on through the social change he was passionate about.”

Scale Collaborative, which supports the social economy in British Columbia, wrote on LinkedIn: “David was an incredibly kind and generous person. He was wisdom on the other end of the phone, a truth-teller, a giggler, and a great person to stand in the corner of a conference with. His values and conviction were unwavering.

United Way East Ontario, a community support body, posted on LinkedIn: “He was a visionary bridge-builder who saw what ‘better’ could look like, and he worked tirelessly in pursuit of it. We will miss his leadership.”

He was wisdom on the other end of the phone, a truth-teller, a giggler, and a great person to stand in the corner of a conference with

LePage’s obituary in the Vancouver Sun and Province said that he was known for his kindness, generosity, intelligence and vision, and, most of all, for having hope, and a belief that change was possible. It added that he would be lovingly remembered by his wife, Kim Boutilier, his brothers Peter and Bob, and his sister Mary Jo Smith.

Read more at the In Memoriam page on the Buy Social Canada website. 

 

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