Obituary

Ray Stevenson Passed Away

Ray speaking at the First Congress in 2001.

It is with great sorrow that we inform the readers of Northstar Compass that Ray Stevenson, the Associate Editor of NSC and Executive member of the International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with Soviet People, passed away after a long illness on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 in Toronto at the St. Michael’s Hospital.

He is survived by his extended family, and by his wife and partner in the struggle – Lil Greene.

Remembering Ray is like looking into an historical era in the life of Canada, but not only in Canada, because Ray left his mark internationally as well. He is remembered and will always be remembered as a dedicated fighter for a principal cause from which he never ever wavered. His devotion to the cause of Socialism, peace, brotherhood of man is something that all of us can learn from, and cherish. Not all of us will be able to accomplish what Ray did in his lifetime, accomplishments that no doubt, eventually will be in history books of Canada for the future generations to learn from, admire, emulate and dedicate themselves to the struggle for the emancipation of mankind from oppression and wars.

Ray was a great friend of Socialism and the Soviet Union, and therefore was involved with the Canadian Friends of Soviet People, and he was one of the founders and the Associate Editor of Northstar Compass journal that is read in 78 countries of the world, with an English and French edition.

Ray is remembered in the world for his activities on behalf of the World Peace Congress. He was a staunch trade union organizer, activist and leader in Canada. Ray was also a great Marxist who fought against any deviation from Marxism-Leninism. As a member of the Communist Party of Canada, in its Central Committee and on many of its Commissions, Ray struggled strongly against the CPC’s tendency towards deviation and away from real Marxism-Leninism, and, after seeing that the CPC was no longer a Marxist party, he resigned from its ranks after more than 60 years.

The biography of Ray Stevenson spans a lifetime of struggle. His early years were spent on a farm in Southwestern Manitoba, near Woodworth. He was a product of the 1930’s drought crisis conditions that affected the prairies. He began his working-career as a miner in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec and Ray remained associated with the mineworkers for forty years until 1978. He became very active in the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers’ Union and took part in the seminal union recognition strike (1941-1942) in Kikland Lake, Ontario. This was followed by assigned and voluntary work in Northeaster Quebec for the union, and coupled with his political activities for the Canadian Total War Committee. He joined the Canadian Army in 1942 and served in it until 1946, gaining the rank of Captain and was honourably discharged in 1946. In the capacity as a Captain, he acted as a leading Information and Education Officer for the Armored Corps of Canada.

On his discharge, Ray was appointed Educational Director for the Worker’s Co-op of Northern Ontario and then to the post of Regional Organizer for the Labour Progressive Party until 1950, when he returned to the underground nickel mining in the Sudbury area. During 1952 Ray was placed on a fulltime staff and served in many functions, including Editor of "Local 598 News". As the elected member of the original autonomous Canadian National Executive Board that was established in 1955, he was in charge of the organizational work and other leadership roles during half the decade. After 1960’s Ray became the Editor of the union’s "Mine-Mill Herald"" and the national educational director, conducting trade union stewards leadership schools from coast to coast and also in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

With the merger of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union with the United Steel Workers of America in 1967, Ray edited the popular "Information Magazine" for the union until 1972 when he was appointed "Acting Public Relations Director" for that union in Canada by the Canadian Steelworkers’ Union director W. Mahoney. But, for political reasons, this appointment was never confirmed by the US Steelworkers’ Headquarters and he was banned by the US Government from entering the country. The Cold War was in full swing in the trade union movement as well.

In 1978 Ray accepted a posting as the Canadian Secretary for the World Peace Council in Helsinki, Finland – also carrying out the responsibility for the global policy of the US peace movement relations. In this capacity as the WPC Trade Union Commission Secretary, Ray gave central assistance to the establishment of the very important "Roundtable of Trade Unionists for Peace", and at the 1980 world-wide Sophia, Bulgaria "Parliament of Peoples for Peace". At that gathering, there were more than 300 active trade unionists from seventy different countries that took part in laying the basis for the "International Union Committee for Peace and Disarmament", also called the "Dublin Committee."

In his final years he engaged in researching and writing a manuscript entitled: " A Worker’s Memoir and Survey of 2oth Century History". His general line was "Globalization and Armageddon in the Workplace"… Failing health and advancing age prevented its completion, although a major part of it is now in the Toronto’s York University Archives, where more than 9 meters of archival materials have been placed as the "Ray Stevenson Fonds", Inventory #167.

Private service and cremation were held and his ashes scattered in his native Manitoba at the site of his first school.

Donations would be greatly appreciated by the family to Northstar Compass, 280 Queen St. W. Toronto, On. Canada, M5V 2A1, Canada.

In saying goodbye to you our dear comrade, let us express the sorrow of thousands of friends across Canada and the world, who read and learned much from your hard-hitting editorials and comments on the pages of Northstar Compass for the past 13 years.

Our deep feelings go to your extended family and to your loving partner in struggle – Lil Greene.

Editorial Board of Northstar Compass
Executive Committee of the
International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with Soviet People

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