Remembering Marcie Summers

It’s with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of long-time advocate and ally Marcie Summers. Marcie was active in the community-based HIV movement beginning in 1986, working as a volunteer in the Speaker’s Bureau at AIDS Vancouver. In 1993, she began working as Executive Director for Positive Women’s Network. In 1996, she was a founding volunteer for PAN – and served for many years on the board of directors.  She also was a long time board member at CATIE. Marcie started her career teaching on a reserve in Northern Alberta, and also worked within the shelter system for women fleeing violence before she turned to HIV advocacy in her early 40’s.

Marcie was a volunteer for AIDS Vancouver doing HIV education work when she and a few other women imagined a support organization designed for the safety, dignity, and empowerment of women living with HIV. That vision evolved into Positive Women’s Network (PWN), a BC-based HIV support organization specifically for cis and trans women (in itself unusual at the time). PWN was operational from 1991-2017. PWN was one of only two women-specific organizations in Canada – Voices of Positive Women in Toronto was the other.

Marcie was PWN’s Executive Director from 1993-2015. She was a soft-spoken powerhouse of an advocate, insistent that women’s voices be respected and heard. PWN’s partnership of HIV positive and uninfected allies working together meant that women were supported to get care and disclose on their own terms, given that disclosure itself was composed of complicated layers of danger for women – intimate partner violence, loss of housing, loss of children, shunning, and overarching sexism, among others. Marcie was always unapologetic and dogged in her advocacy efforts for positive women and those most at risk – in her role as ED of PWN she strived to amplify the voices of positive women both within PWN and beyond.

Marcie was part of the initial discussions that led  to PAN’s formation, sitting with others over a meal at the White Spot restaurant while the 9th Annual BC AIDS Conference was underway in 1995.  PAN was originally a project housed out of (then) AIDS Vancouver Island, and Marcie served on PAN’s Working Group, in the years before PAN became an incorporated society.  Following incorporation in 2003, she served on the PAN board of directors multiple times, most recently from 2008 to 2016 as Chair then Co-Chair. As a PAN board member and as ED of PWN she was a significant champion of the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDI) –  encouraging women to explore their leadership goals.  She also worked on many advocacy and policy initiatives – bringing to bear her tremendous passion for social justice. Finally, she was a support, mentor and friend to many people in the movement who have gone on to become advocates and leaders themselves.

Marcie was a founding member of the Blueprint for Action on Women and Girls and HIV/AIDS in 2006, a “a comprehensive strategy to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic among women and girls (including transgendered women [sic]) globally that requires adequately funded, sustained and ongoing response from all stakeholders.” The Blueprint for Action team researched and created Report Cards on the status of HIV related issues for women and girls in different countries; they were first presented at the International AIDS Conference in 2008 and for several International Conferences thereafter.

Marcie also joined the CATIE board of directors beginning in 2011, sitting for several terms as the BC regional representative. During her time on the CATIE board, she served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Board Development Committee.

Marcie’s contribution to the work and the sector spanned many years and many significant achievements. Marcie was an insistent and passionate feminist voice, and sadly she had to fight hard at times for the concerns of women living with HIV to be acknowledged and for women’s perspective and voices to be included.

Marcie leaves an indelible legacy in this province and beyond.  She left us far too soon and she will be greatly missed by many.