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Saturday April 9, 2016

Peter Ramsay Nares

It is with profound sadness that we
share the news that our dear Peter
died, on April 5, 2016, his 66th
birthday, from an aggressive form of
chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He
was surrounded by his loving family
during his last hours.
   Peter is survived by his devoted
partner, Anne; his darling children,
Luke (Josée Wilson) and Kelly
(Tobias Witteveen); his cherished
grandchildren, Felix and Audrey
Witteveen; his loving mother, Hazel
and sister, Nancy. Peter also leaves
behind his nieces and nephew,
brothers and sisters-in-law, and
many friends.
   Peter faced his illness and mortality
with courage and honesty. He was
truly an inspiration as he welcomed
open discussions and full emotional
expression regarding both the
meaning and the end of life.
   Peter moved around a lot as a child
and as a young teenager attended
Bishop's College School in
Sherbrooke, Quebec. Peter received
a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton
University and later a Bachelor of
Social Work from York University
The repressive environment at
boarding school and the sixties
counterculture framed the narrative
for the rest of his life. Social justice
was the concept that would catalyze
virtually every big decision he made
from high school onwards.
   Peter's contribution to social services
began in 1974 as a child care worker
Frustrated by what he experienced in
his efforts to provide optimal care,
he became convinced that changes
needed to be made systemically
This led to Peter's first position in
social policy with the Ontario Social
Development Council (OSDC). Peter
started Social and Enterprise
Development Innovations (SEDI) in
1986, as a division of OSDC, later
evolving into an independent,
national non-profit in 1995. Under
Peter's leadership, the organization
was a vehicle for generating, testing
and bringing to scale new and
effective ideas to reduce poverty by
fostering economic independence
Examples of these include the Self-
Employment Benefit Program,
enabling disadvantaged individuals
to start their own businesses; the
Registered Disability Savings Bond,
helping safeguard funds for those
living with disabilities; and the
Federal Task Force on Financial
Literacy, supporting a truly inclusive
economy in which everyone has the
opportunity to save for and invest in
their dreams. He also worked
alongside other national non-profits
to pioneer the asset-building and
matched savings movement. This
work continues to flourish within the
organization which was recently re-
named Prosper Canada.
   In a statement by Charles Coffey,
Officer of the Order of Canada, Peter
is described as one who embodies
'the essence of enlightened
compassionate leadership and has
given voice to those who have
none... He has set a standard of
excellence that will be a lasting
   In 2008, Peter was awarded a senior
fellowship with Ashoka - a global
association of leading social
entrepreneurs, in recognition of his
vision, commitment and innovative
solutions to some of society's most
pressing challenges.
   Peter also had many interests -
gardening, hiking, golfing, hockey,
football and coaching. From a young
age he was drawn to the water and
loved to be 'near it, on it, or in it'
Fishing for Peter was a treasured
time for reflection. Peter believed
that it is our responsibility to be
informed about the world. He was a
voracious reader of many topics
from current events to Russian
literature. He also loved music, with
a special appreciation of rock music
One of his regrets in life was passing
on the opportunity to attend
Woodstock, thinking it would be a
   One of Peter's qualities that will be
most remembered by all those who
knew him was his ability to
authentically share himself and
encouraging others to do the same
He touched the lives of many and
improved the lives of many more. He
will be deeply missed.
   As an expression of sympathy,
please consider making a donation
in Peter's name to Prosper
Canada (formerly SEDI),
   Memories and photos would be
welcomed and can be shared at Peter-Nares/

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