Former college dean passes away

Long-time dean of trades at Northwest Community College Margo Van der Touw lost her battle with cancer Oct. 28.

Margo Van der Touw

Margo Van der Touw did more than just a job at Northwest Community College.

Prior to losing her hard-fought battle to cancer Oct. 28 at the age of 56, the college’s former dean of trades, business, workforce training and continuing studies worked to secure a $600,000 federal grant to revamp the college’s heavy equipment operator program at a time when a labour shortage in that field loomed over the northwest – one of many examples of how Van der Touw’s work will touch the lives of students despite her passing.

Those who knew her well say Van der Touw always saw miles ahead like that. Driven by a desire to see students succeed, she is described as a woman who always looked at the big picture, knew what was coming, and had the knowledge and contact base to make her visions a reality.

In northwestern B.C. we need more people like that that make things actually happen on the ground,” said Alice Maitland, NWCC’s regional director for Hazleton’s campus who worked closely with Van der Touw on many projects over the years.

Van der Touw was hired by NWCC in November of 2004 as the director of continuing and international education before becoming the dean of trades, business, workforce training and continuing studies in 2006.

She created outreach programs, continuing education programs and access programs with a focus on reaching out to First Nations communities, said Maitland, adding her most cherished project during her eight years with the college was NWCC’s School of Exploration and Mining.

That was her baby,” said Maitland.

The school’s birth happened in partnership with the Smithers Exploration Group, and has received awards like the 2009 Mining and Sustainability Award and the Mentor Award from the Mining Association of British Columbia in conjunction with the province. In 2010, the school won the Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Award from the Conference Board of Canada and International Partnership Network.

Margo was a tenacious champion for students. She possessed both strength and compassion and had an unending supply of energy,” said NWCC’s vice president of education Beverly Moore-Garcia.

Van der Touw also served on the board of directors for the Contaminants Remediation Training Organization of Canada and was president of the Continuing Education and Training Association of British Columbia.

In her youth, Van der Touw first earned a living singing and playing guitar as a busker in downtown Vancouver before returning to university as a mature student in her mid-twenties, earning a BA in history with a major in economics.

She worked various positions in the field of post-secondary education since graduating in 1988.

She is survived by two sons and husband Dave Sinclair, who has said if there were a theme to her life, it would be “go big or go home.”

She was just absolutely brilliant,” said Sinclair, adding when she put her mind to something, it got done.

She didn’t back down, didn’t take the easy way ever, she loved things when they were broken so she could fix them,” he said.

Despite a years-long battle with cancer her death came a surprise, he said.

She had recovered after being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1996.

And then, in August of 14, 2010 is when we discovered that she had some kind of growth at the top of her left leg.

That was the start of this journey.”

At first, Van der Touw was told the tumour was inoperable and proceeded with chemo and radiation treatments.

April 23, 2012 they finally did surgery on the tumour that was not supposed to be able to be removed surgically and the surgeon was able to take the whole thing out. So, at that point we thought halleluiah, she’s cancer free,” Sinclair said, adding although it came back aggressively, further treatments seemed to be working.

There’s more too it than that as I’ve discovered. It was a huge shock to lose her,” he said.

At the college, Denis Caron is currently the interim dean of trades and of WTCS, applied business technology, business administration, and culinary arts.










Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN | Creating a “community of practice” inspires

Art Matters by columnist Sarah Zimmerman

Hockey puck with nails found at Terrace Sportsplex Arena

City believes it has already caused $4,000 of damage

Kitselas First Nation receives $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

Terrace Skating Club takes home 24 medals from regional championships

Skaters claim top spot for fifth year in a row

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read