Local tragedy leads Castlegar family to support peace studies
A freak accident involving a firearm took the life of a young Castlegar man almost 33 years ago, but the legacy of Philip Mark Malekow continues to this day.
On Sept. 26, 1982, Malekow and a friend were out for a Sunday drive when they picked up a pair of female hitchhikers. After they dropped the passengers off at their destination, Malekow discovered that one of them left behind a purse. The two friends went back to look for the two hitchhikers and came upon a group of hunters in a truck.
As they were talking to the hunters, one of their guns went off inside the truck and the bullet went through the vehicle’s door. Metal fragments from the shot went into Malekow’s heart and he died instantly at the age of 21.
Malekow had graduated from Castlegar’s Mount Sentinel Secondary and had achieved his millwright foundation certificate from Selkirk College in 1981. He was a pacifist, brought up in a Doukhobor tradition opposed to violence.
“To ensure that his death not be meaningless and for the cause of peace and love, our mother [Polly Malekow] raised money to establish an award fund in his memory,” said Phil’s older brother Steve Malekow. “The award’s intent was to provide financial assistance for students who are concerned about issues of peace and non-violence.”
For almost three decades, financial awards were presented to Grade 12 students graduating from Mount Sentinel, Stanley Humphries and Grand Forks Secondary. Students applied for the Phil Malekow Peace Award by writing an innovative and original essay focused on awareness of the consequences involved in owning and using firearms. Special merit was awarded to students who described their personal efforts in promoting peace.
Earlier this year, the decision was made to wrap up the fund and provide the remainder to the Selkirk College Mir Centre for Peace. The family presented a cheque for $660 to Randy Janzen, the Mir Centre for Peace chairperson.
“We knew they would continue with a cause my brother and my family believe in,” Steve Malekow said earlier this month. “We feel honoured to see how many people this peace award has touched over the years and it has gotten more people thinking about the idea of peace. Phil’s death was not in vain.”
The donation by the Malekow family will be used for a bursary aimed at bringing international students to Castlegar for the upcoming Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping Program which begins in January, 2016. The program—which is open to everyone in the region—is the first of its kind in Canada and has been developed in partnership with the Nonviolent Peaceforce with a goal of strengthening the effort to deploy professionally prepared unarmed civilians to assist areas of violent conflict.
“We very much appreciate this donation,” said Janzen. “We will ensure that the funds are used in a way that will further the cause of what Phil Malekow believed in.”
Selkirk College is hosting a fundraising dinner for the Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping Program at the Brilliant Cultural Centre on September 26. The evening will include a traditional borsch dinner and admission to the Parfaite Ntahuba Mir Lecture that follows. You can find out more about this unique and exciting evening by going to selkirk.ca or calling 250.365.1288.