Joyce Perrie’s lasting legacy

By on April 11, 2018
Joyce Perrie. Herald Files.


by Dara Hill

After 72 years, Joyce Perrie passed away in February. Her legacy, however, lives on.

Perrie was known for her commitment to making her community a better place, which manifested through years of volunteer work.

Her service to the community began forty-five years ago in Port Hardy, where she lived with her family.  At the time her daughter Shelley Hunniford wanted to join the Girl Guides of Canada ‘Brownie’ program.

There was no Guiding organization in Port Hardy at the time, so Perrie took things into her own hands.

“She became my Brownie leader and fell in love with it,” Hunniford said.

Hunniford explained that she herself continued through the Girl Guide program for several years, but her mother never stopped.

“I finished Pathfinders, and then I quit — I was done. She was not,” Hunniford said.

They left Port Hardy for Langley in 1988, but Perrie continued her work with all aspects of the Girl Guide community.

“She was a strong advocate for young girls,”Hunniford told the Herald.

Hunniford explained her mother wore many hats in the organization. She was a leader for all of the units (at the time Brownies, Girl Guides, Pathfinders), helped start up and run the Sparks unit in Langley, was very involved with SOAR camp, and worked on various committees.

“Girl Guides was the pursuit she was most proud of. It was her passion,” said Hunniford. “She touched every age of the girls’ lives throughout.”

Perrie relocated to Merritt in 2002, where she spent the remainder of her life. While she continued her Guiding work, making many trips down to the Guide House in Vancouver, she also craved even more community involvement.

“I think the more involved she got, the more she wanted to help,” Hunniford said.

She began working with Merritt’s Community Policing Office (CPO) in 2007, then Crime Stoppers, and became a volunteer at the St. Michaels Anglican Church.

She loved to dance, so she joined the Merritt Love To Dance Academy. According to Hunniford, her mother was at a meeting one day and they announced to her they’d even elected her president of their academy.

“She just loved to be involved — she loved to help. I think staying busy was her way of staying young. She just wanted to be there for people,” Hunniford said.

Her last community endeavour was volunteering for the Merritt Country Christmas last year.

“I think she would have continued to do more and more. She was invincible to me,” Hunniford said.

Perrie was awarded numerous awards throughout her life, including the Honorary Life Membership from Girls Guides of Canada, Girls Guides of Canada Medal of Merit, TNRD Certificate of Appreciation – Emergency Social Services, and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.

When asked what she thinks kept her mother motivated all those years, Hunniford boiled it down to love.

“I think her heart was just so full of love and life for her family and for her other families. She loved her work — she didn’t ever want to stop,” she said.

Hunniford said being a mentor for others and building lifelong friendships was treasured by her mother as well. Hunniford noted she attended the memorial tea the Guide House held for her on March 17, where colleagues of her mother shared the lasting impact Perrie had on their lives.

“There were ladies there that said they were so shy and didn’t know where they could go or where they could even be placed within [the Guiding organization]. They would say ‘Your mom took me by the arm and took me under her wing and showed me I don’t need to be afraid,’” said Hunniford.

Hunniford said the response from the community since her mother’s death has been enormous. She noted many people, some of whom never met Perrie directly, have reached out to share the ways she made a difference in their lives.

“Hearing from people after she passed, the lives that she touched — I knew it was big, but it was huge. Bigger than I ever could have imagined,” Hunniford said. “Throughout everything, she touched thousands upon thousands of people’s lives.”

As for Hunniford’s life, she told the Herald her mother empowered her in ways she couldn’t even imagine. From her mother she learned strength, to be a good mother, and to love fiercely.

“To hold the people you love close — she taught me that. Love your family dearly.”

Hunniford explained the one thing more important than Perrie’s work was her family.

“She had three kids, five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, and family was number one,” she said. “She left a huge legacy behind for her family.”

“She was my biggest cheerleader. She was my rock, and such an inspiration to everyone she touched. Not just her family, but everyone.”

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