It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of a dear friend to many and our colleague Pius White. Pius passed away peacefully in his sleep at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre early on September 16th with close friends at his bedside. He was 53.
Pius leaves a long legacy of service within the HIV/AIDS movement. Since 1993, Pius was an active member of AIDS Thunder Bay, serving as outspoken activist, advocate and PHA. He also served on AIDS Thunder Bay’s board of directors in the late 90s, as both Vice President and President and was re-elected to the board in 2008. He worked with dedication on many local, provincial, national and international boards and committees, including the Ontario AIDS Network, the PHA Caucus, the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS (OACHA). He was engaged primarily in HIV/AIDS awareness and education, housing initiatives, and programs to counter homophobia and discrimination. He was most recently a peer research assistant with the Positive Spaces Health Places research project and a Coordinator of Peer Research with the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.
Pius was well known in Thunder Bay for his public presence, having appeared before the local media many times. Exhibiting great courage, he was featured in social marketing campaigns identifying that he was HIV positive and responsible.
Last year, the City of Thunder Bay presented Pius White with “The 2008 Citizens of Exceptional Achievement Award ( Spirit of Thunder Bay Award) ” for his participation in the Poz Prevention campaign and a lifetime of raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, and gay rights. Pius’ ability to meet challenges head-on and to turn adversity into positives has had a dramatic impact on the lives of people, not only in Thunder Bay, but also nationally and internationally. Because of Pius, we are a better community, with more understanding and compassion for people who are infected with HIV and those who have a different sexual orientation.
Pius was an engaging, joyous people person with a deliciously wicked sense of humour. He enjoyed the latest gossip and created some of his own on numerous occasions. His social networking and celebrating was as important to him as his serious, activist work. He loved to laugh and joke over a good martini with his friends and chosen family Crystal, Deb and Shelly. He loved children and was Uncle Pius to many including his own nieces and nephews and little Keivan.
He will be deeply missed by many people in his circle of friends and colleagues.