PAUL DEWAR 1963–2019: “I have found my way to peace…”

A great man who loved and embodied all things good in our community has left us. On Wednesday, February 6th, we of Old Ottawa East were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Dewar following his one-year struggle with brain cancer. In an open letter, published after his death, Paul reminds us that kindness and compassion are at the core of all of us, as individuals, as members of our community, and as Canadians. 

Dear Friends,

The time has come for me to say goodbye. While I have left this place physically, I have some final words I’d like to share. I want to say thank you. My whole life was filled with the kindness of the people of Ottawa, but never did I feel the true depth and generosity of your love more than this past year. You were a constant source of comfort and solidarity for me and my family. I am so grateful for all that you have done.

I told you that I thought my illness was a gift and I genuinely meant that. In this time in between, I got to see the wonder of the world around us. This reinforced my belief that inherent in our community is a desire to embrace each other with kindness and compassion.

In my time on this earth, I was passionate about the power of citizens working together and making a difference.

I wanted a Canada where we treat our fellow citizens with the dignity, love and respect that every one of us deserves. I wanted a world where we reduced suffering and increased happiness. A world where we took better care of each other.

I had the privilege to travel and see that despite our many unique differences, we are all ultimately driven by the same desires for community, belonging and fairness.

It is easy sometimes to feel overwhelmed by the gravity of the challenges we face. Issues like climate change, forced migration and the threat posed by nuclear weapons. It’s hard to know how to make a difference.

The secret is not to focus on how to solve the problem, but concentrate on what you can contribute – to your country, your community and neighbours.

Start from a place of compassion and be grateful for all that Canada has to offer – especially the natural beauty that surrounds us, and the music that brings us so much joy.

True change can only come when power is transferred to young people unburdened by cynicism. That’s why I used what energy I had left this year to create Youth Action Now. Hopefully, it will help unleash the power of the young people in our community to make a real difference. I hope you will be inspired to be a part of that project and continue my work.

Ottawa, don’t stop now. Let’s show our strength together. Let’s embrace the vision of Algonquin elder William Commanda for an authentic and organic future, rooted in the wisdom of the Indigenous people upon whose land we reside.

Let’s exemplify how to save our biosphere, right here, with the protection of our beloved Ottawa River and Gatineau Park.

Let’s make more art. Let’s play more. Let’s embrace each other in these days of cynicism and doubt.

Let’s welcome those who need a safe home. Let’s empower those who have been left behind.

Let’s nurture and grow with peace, love and unity. Let’s join hands and hearts to see the beauty in ourselves through the soul of our city.

In the stoic stillness of my journey, I have found my way to peace. May you keep building a more peaceful and better world for all. Let this sacred ground be a place for all. Let the building of a better world begin with our neighbours. May we dream together. May we gather our courage and stand together in moments of despair, and may we be bound together by joyous celebration of life. We are best when we love and when we are loved. Shine on like diamonds in the magic of this place.


My love to you always,


Paul Dewar Memorial Service Details A celebration of life will be hosted by First United Church at Carleton University, DominionChalmers Church, 355 Cooper Avenue, Ottawa at 10:30 a.m, Saturday, February 23. A time to gather and share stories will take place at First United Church, 347 Richmond Road, Ottawa from 2 pm to 8 pm on Friday, February 22. Donations can be made to Paul’s legacy initiative Youth Action Now at

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