Yesterday, I spoke on behalf of everyone at Parvati.org at our friend and colleague Darcy Belanger’s Celebration of Life in Sherwood Park, his hometown just outside of Edmonton, Canada. I felt people needed to know about his amazing commitment to being “all in”. Here is the eulogy in full. May it inspire you.
Good morning to everyone here, and to all those online.
I am grateful to be among you, in this beautiful church that celebrates the gift of eternal light and our opportunity to embrace it.
My name is Parvati. I’m a musician, former lay assistant minister, and the founder and CEO of the all-volunteer international nonprofit Parvati.org. I’m here today on behalf of our organization, from Canada to Kenya, in love and appreciation for Darcy.
As our Director of Strategic Initiatives, Darcy did so much more than we could ever fit into this brief time, which is why we dedicated a fifty-page magazine to him which is available here today, outside the reception area. He was the quarterback for our immediate mission to realize MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, which transforms the entire Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle into the largest ocean preserve the world has ever seen.
He joined this mission because he understood that the Arctic sea ice is the cooling system of our world. It reflects half of the sun’s heat away from our planet and regulates the global weather patterns that grow the food and resources we all need to survive. But today it’s under threat as never before.
There is 75% less Arctic sea ice in the summer than there was just 50 years ago. And corporations and governments seek to profit from its melt. The ripple effect of suffering worldwide is an underreported ecological and humanitarian crisis. Darcy was moved to act on an immediate and practical response to protect us all: MAPS.
If I had only two words to describe Darcy, they would be “All In”.
Being “all in” develops richer meaning the greater the commitment. That certainly was the case for Darcy. I would like to share with you the extraordinary evolution of light and courage I had the privilege to witness in him as a friend and colleague.
I vividly remember the first time I met Darcy ten years ago, at my Toronto home. I was immediately struck by the light in his eyes and instantly felt I knew him. He soon became like the brother I never had.
Our journey towards MAPS began in an unusually hot Toronto summer in 2010. I was scheduled to do a musical tour in Asia, but kept having a recurring dream of lying on ice while a great blue whale in the ocean below came to greet me.
I told Rishi, my music manager (and now husband), that I needed to postpone my tour and perform instead at the North Pole to raise awareness of the melting Arctic ice.
Darcy was one of the first people to step forward to support the trip. And with his TV producer skills, he coached Rishi on handling a video camera to document it.
Though he did not yet fully understand why I needed to go, he sensed the importance and was all in.
The trip solidified the message that Darcy would end up carrying around the world: we are interconnected. What happens in the Arctic Ocean affects us all, and what we do affects it.
In fall 2014, I learned of plans for seismic testing in Canada’s Arctic waters. When we develop technology without clarity and compassion, we hurt life, including ourselves. In seismic testing, companies look for oil and gas in the ocean floor by firing airguns 100,000 times louder than a jet engine – every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day. I knew I could not let this happen.
So I rallied friends to join me in founding Parvati.org for a healthy world. Darcy was one of the first people I called. His response? “I’m all in.” Though he had no formal environmental training, he saw the urgency of the work and was committed to its success.
Nothing in his professional life had prepared Darcy for his first mission, to personally hand MAPS information to former US Vice President Al Gore in the spring of 2015 – which he did – on his own time and funds. Then Darcy went to the UN in Paris to represent the newly written MAPS Treaty at COP 21. He had no pass, no diplomatic or political background, and he needed to approach the highest-ranking officials from all over the world. But he had that spark in his eyes, courage in his heart, and the staunch support of his teammates. It was tough, but he made inroads.
The following year, COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, Darcy had an official UN Observer badge and greater access to officials. He worked nonstop there, but jokingly referred to his biggest challenges being the dangerous Marrakech streets, and the hot African sun on his bald head.
At COP 23 in Bonn, Germany in 2017, Darcy’s efforts were paying off. More people than ever knew about MAPS. He gave a keynote to officials from small island developing states critically affected by the melting Arctic sea ice. Samoa soon became the first MAPS Treaty signatory.
Not long after a whirlwind trip to present MAPS in Fiji, he attended COP24, the UN conference last December in Poland. MAPS was now a known quantity and Darcy was in his element. He and his colleague Vandana, our legal counsel, secured a MAPS Treaty signature on the spot.
I saw the light growing in Darcy every time he made the courageous choice to be more “all in” by letting go of attachment to his personal preferences and committing to the highest good of all.
He knew 14,000 tons of Arctic ice pour into the ocean every second, and that 1000 children die every day as a result. He knew we don’t have time to wait and we need MAPS now.
The more open he became, he discovered that MAPS is not just a mission, but a way of living that asks each one of us to cultivate our own inner peace sanctuary and express compassion in all we do. He came to embody our ethos that MAPS is not only a boundary that protects Nature. Nor is it just a boundary that protects the fate of humanity. MAPS redefines our values to support the collective good.
Darcy stepped up in service to life itself. As he surrendered to his work as a spiritual practice, he found ease and flow because he stopped seeing himself as separate from the whole.
He had courageously followed the light even before he could see the path. Now it was all coming clear. The ground of love and unity had been beneath his feet all along. He was more “all in” than ever before.
In Darcy’s last video message he was full of light, like a star. None of us expected that he would then go supernova. Like a luminous ripple expanding out to the universe, Darcy’s light has travelled to remind us that death will never be the end.
We are all eternal light, masked only by our egos. Darcy sought this truth every day in meditation. Now, he has become the immense, luminous peace he was cultivating. His love is now unbound, unlimited and everywhere.
In that light of love and clarity, I think back to this scene.
On March 10, 2019, Darcy walked happily down the concourse of Terminal 2 at Addis Ababa Airport. In his carry-on bag were copies of the beautiful MAPS presentation booklet produced by his teammates, the book that had opened so many doors for him over the years in his travels, the message he was looking forward to bringing to the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
He got to his gate, boarded the Boeing 737, took his seat and stowed his carry-on overhead, as he always did. Then he settled in for takeoff.
Minutes later, we had a devastating reminder of the dangers of technology created without clarity and compassion.
Why was Darcy on that plane? Because he knew our collective navigation system is faulty. He was representing an urgently needed course correction. He was all in. And we at Parvati.org are all in to make sure that his voice and all he gave for MAPS and for the greater good are known.
A few days after the crash, a report from the Washington Post made my jaw drop.
In the dark soil of a farmer’s field, 40 miles southeast of Addis Ababa, a MAPS brochure had been discovered prominent and intact in the rubble.
The message Darcy was carrying has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. The discovery of that lone MAPS booklet in the wreckage is more than poignant. It is a providential symbol of survival. The message Darcy carried lives on, because the truth always comes to light.
Darcy knew there has never been a better time, or a more urgent need, to be all in.
Darcy’s legacy is what MAPS is about – courage born of the profound understanding of our inherent interconnection that gives rise to compassionate action for the good of all. As each one of us calibrates to this reality, as Darcy did, we re-orient our collective navigation system to protect life itself.
Thank you, Amie Belanger. We recognize all you have given to MAPS by selflessly supporting Darcy.
Thank you to the Belanger family for bringing into this world such a courageous light through Darcy. The world is so much brighter because of him.
Darcy, thank you, for following your heart and for being the shining light that you are. Through that light, we are all in.