British Columbia

There's something about Mary: Community hosts retirement parade for long-serving politician

When Mary Marcotte announced she'd be stepping down as regional director for Cowichan Valley Regional District Area H after 25 years of service, she had no idea months later her constituents would be throwing a parade in her honour.

Mary Marcotte served as a director for Cowichan Valley Regional District for 25 years

Former Cowichan Valley Regional District Area H director Mary Marcotte, pictured here, served her community for 25 years before stepping down in March 2020 due to health reasons. (Cowichan Valley Regional District)

When Mary Marcotte announced she'd be stepping down as regional director for Cowichan Valley Regional District Area H after 25 years of service, she had no idea her constituents would be throwing a parade in her honour months later.

"I was very surprised that this was coming my way, I was just blown out the water. I thought I'm not good enough for that," Marcotte said over the phone.

But the community of North Oyster, B.C., just north of Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, thought otherwise.

Resident Ben Maartman, who helped organize the parade, told All Points West host Kathryn Marlow it was easy to get the community on board because Marcotte's integrity and compassion made a big impact on the small town.

"We gave a little nudge to the community and the love is just pouring out," Maartman said over the phone. 

Maartman credits Marcotte with helping maintain the community's rural lifestyle, and for advocating for local agriculture in the area. Marcotte also advocated for a new North Oyster Fire Hall, which was completed in 2019, and to establish parks and open beach access.

The parade 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maartman and the community weren't able to organize a large retirement party for Marcotte. Instead, they thought holding a parade would be a fun and safe way to celebrate Marcotte's hard work.

Participants will gather Sunday morning at North Oyster Community Hall, then bike or drive down to Yellow Point Park where Marcotte and her family will have a spot set up to greet the parade of people.

The local fire department will lead the way, and members of the Cowichan Valley Regional District office and the community will follow. 

"We're going to honk, and celebrate, and say a few words if we can and just tell her how much we care and love her," said Maartman.

More about Mary

Mary Marcotte was born in California in 1948. She moved to Canada in the 1960s, where she met her husband, Barry. The young couple had two sons before moving to North Oyster in 1979. 

She was first elected as Area H Director for the Cowichan Valley Regional District in 1994. Marcotte was also a founding member of the North Oyster and Area Historical Society, and president and lifetime member of the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities.

Marcotte said it's always been about helping others.

"I love the people. There were some grumpy ones but you could get through to them. It's about working with, not against, others," she said.

She resigned from her position in March 2020 for undisclosed health reasons and has been replaced temporarily until a byelection is called later this year.

Marcotte said she's excited for the parade, but also expects many tears on her end.

"I'm going to be overwhelmed, I know I'm going to cry."

Click the link below to listen to the full interview:

With files from All Points West

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