I publicly admit, finding the words for this column has been one of the most difficult things that I have done for some time. Never in my farthest thoughts, would I have believed that, I would be writing a column about my friend and former town council colleague Mr. John Hickey. The whole community was in shock to hear of John’s accident that occurred on Dec. 09, 2017, while out doing what he loved; being outdoors in the “Big Land”, checking his rabbit snares on this day.
We were even more shocked to hear that he had succumbed to his injuries on Dec. 14.
For those who knew John best, I am sure you would agree with me, that John was a big man, big in stature, big attitude/opinion and most of all; a big heart! He was indeed “Bigger than Life.”
John Hickey came to Twin Falls, Labrador in October of 1962 after graduating from JR Smallwood Collegiate (Wabush). He moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 1974 where he worked for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro as a High Voltage Lineman and where he quickly advanced to senior management. He dedicated 25 years of his professional life to Hydro. As soon as John landed in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, he became an active volunteer member in the community, giving countless hours of his time to many groups such as (of the time) the Labrador East Hunters Association.
John would eventually run for a position with the town council and served the citizens of our community for 16 years as Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillor. He held the position of President of the Combined Councils of Labrador and also served as a National Director with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities representing the whole province as it relates to northern issues.
John was an extremely busy man. While on council, he served as a Director with the Goose Bay Airport Corporation, the Central Labrador Economic Board and the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce just to name a few. In March of 2003, he received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada, which is bestowed upon individuals who make significant contributions to their community and entire region.
John always put his community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay first and foremost but on numerous occasions, would speak for the entire Labrador region. He would often say “there is not a community in Labrador I have not visited and that is why I know the people and issues.” Never truer words spoke.
For the past 25 to 30 years, John Hickey has been a strong, solid and unwavering voice for the region, championing many issues at hand. He was committed to making the area a better place. He continuously encouraged people to visit the region and come, play and work here.
In October of 2003, John was elected as the Member of the House of Assembly for the district of Lake Melville, he was subsequently appointed Minister of Transportation and Works and Minister of Labrador Affairs. Of which both positions he done a magnificent job.
John Hickey was re-elected in 2007 in the provincial election and was re-appointed to cabinet as the Minster of Labrador Affairs. While in cabinet, John also served on Treasury Board, Economic Policy Committee and the Arctic Opportunities Committee.
John retired from provincial politics in 2014, and settled in to a quiet life with his partner, Peggie Best. John and Peggie loved the outdoors, spending countless hours, fishing, hunting and berry picking. He was truly an outdoor Labrador man.
However, John still had lots of vigour and much to give. He missed serving his community. He was a leader! He was re-elected as our Mayor in September of 2017. Some say he was less boisterous, more reserved and more importantly, he had a renewed vision “on where the community should go”. He was a thinker and was always ahead of his times.
John Hickey was more than a politician and our Mayor; he was compassionate, understanding and always open to listen. He may not always have agreed with you, but he did listen. He was “Bigger than Life” and will truly be missed on many levels. Forever in our memories.
Thanks for reading my column and if you have ideas and or comments please fell free to e-mail directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers from Central Labrador
Stan Oliver lives and works in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.