Remembering John Loxley

August 18, 2020

Photo of John LoxleyOn July 28, the community economic development movement lost an elder.
Dr. John Loxley was a scholar, teacher, activist, mentor, and friend to many. His vision of a world in which sustainable, inclusive communities direct their own futures is at the core of CCEDNet’s work. And by nurturing a collective belief in this vision – among students, organizers, community members, and policy makers – John helped advance CED across Manitoba and around the world.
John was beloved. He is remembered as a Robin Hood economist with a genius for friendship who was happiest “explaining the ideas of progressive economics to trade union and community activists, with clarity and without condescension.
We asked a few people who knew John to reflect on his impact on CED, CCEDNet, and beyond.

Dr. Shauna MacKinnon remembers John for his “quiet, humble leadership,” which serves as a “good reminder that we need to have more humility and not put ourselves out there as ‘the experts’ — and to [instead] recognize the strength that other people bring.” 

Shauna also spoke about the importance of recognizing John’s foundational contributions to the world of CED. “He gave [CED] a sound theoretical framework… There’s absolutely no doubt that the person who has led CED in [Manitoba] is John Loxley. All you have to do is look at the work he did in the seventies about developing the Great Northern Plan, which is basically the theory behind CED.”
Blair Hamilton, Program Manager for the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, said that “John was an example of an organic intellectual. A guy from the working class who achieved academic and theoretical excellence but remained connected to his roots, which is rare… [He] was instrumental in building the bridge between academia and the community in Manitoba. This bridge is a defining feature of CED in Manitoba.”
Former CCEDNet executive director Garry Loewen echoed the importance of John’s role as a community-minded intellectual in creating the foundation for CED in Manitoba: “[John’s] biggest impact was as a thought leader. John had conceptualized CED a fair bit before we as practitioners turned into a movement of projects.”  

Garry also spoke to the vitality of John’s role as bridge-builder between the academy and the community, and how John brought the values of CED alive for thousands of students. And he explained that John’s legacy includes “the resources that got made available to the sector here in Manitoba through his work with the provincial government. A lot of the [CED] stuff that’s happening on the ground is because of the role he played in making those resources available.” 

Brendan Reimer, partner at Assiniboine Credit Union, said that “as a person, [John] was incredibly principled. He knew the kind of world he was trying to build, he knew what his values were and what he thought a just society would look like. He was incredibly determined through all aspects of his to help us get there — whether that was through his research, teaching, activism, or by going out and starting a community co-op.”

Early in his career, Brendan took a job with CCEDNet. The work was challenging and he felt in over his head. In one of his first meetings, he found himself at a table surrounded by the “intellectual and community leadership giants” of CED — John being one of them. Even though Brendan considered himself to be a “newbie student,” John consistently turned to him during the meeting to ask, “Brendan, what do you think?” To be included in this way meant a lot to Brendan, and it reflected John’s approach to “creating space for both the lived experience of the community and also people who were new” to the work. “That was how he helped build the movement.” 

According to Brendan, John “would challenge you with a smile on his face. Just with a little quip or a little smirk. And you’d get a glimpse behind the curtain, that this guy is smart as hell, eternally committed to social and economic justice, and there’s something in that smile that made you think, ‘this is the kind of guy I want to learn from.’”

Thank you, John, for a legacy of community and compassion. We extend our sincere condolences to John’s loved ones.

Learn more about John’s work:

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