By Randy Shore @ Vancouver Sun Dec 1, 2009
Social worker Catherine White Holman was a pioneer in Vancouver’s Downtown neighbourhoods, bringing health services to the most marginalized people in the city, according to long-time colleague Trevor Corneil. “Catherine was a remarkable person,” said Corneil, a physician at Three Bridges Community Health Centre where Holman was a founding staff member. “I have worked with Catherine for 15 years, since I started out as a resident, and I have seen her help thousands of people.” Holman was among the six people killed when their seaplane crashed soon after takeoff near Saturna Island Sunday November 29th.
Holman was a strong advocate for her clients at the clinic and an activist for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender community and was openly lesbian. She is survived by her spouse Shaira Holman. “Her marriage was a great celebratory moment for her,” said Corneil. “It was the one time she enjoyed what she always insisted on for her clients, equality.”
Holman was a founding staff member at the Three Bridges clinic and worked on the frontlines of the HIV epidemic when the disease began to spread among IV drug users in the 90s. The clinic employs several physicians, social workers, counsellors and advocates working on a model that combines medical services with a entire suite of mental health and community support services, from counselling to finding a place to live or securing disability benefits and finding childcare. She wrote the book, literally, on best practices in the care of GLBT patients, when she penned Guidelines for Transgender Care and Care of Transgender Adolescents, which describe standards and practices for care used by medical professionals all over the world.
“I wouldn’t use the word driven to describe her,” Three Bridges mental health counsellor Margaret Drewlo. “She was more joyous high energy.” Working with her was great, a privilege,” Drewlo said. “When she was at work she was totally at work and when she was off work she was having huge fun in the other part of her life.” “She lived big and she loved big,” said Drewlo. “She was always so expressive of her love for her partner, Shaira,” she said.
Holman was an instructor at the University of British Columbia, teaching medical students social work practices. Wednesday would have been her last class of the term.
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Catherine White Holman will be greatly missed by CPATH: Letter from Board