What drives us to care? Raymond Currie grew up in a caring family, but it was the anonymous financial support he received for specialized education that made Currie truly consider what it means to care.
“I wonder if [the benefactor] has any idea of the huge effect he had on my own life,” Currie says. “Real generosity does not require repayment, but it sets up a chain reaction; as a recipient of an act of generosity, I have always felt the urge to seize opportunities to help others while I am able.”
Currie has given back in many ways as a teacher, researcher, university administrator, priest and board member for numerous non-profits. His actions were recently recognized by the Governor General with a Caring Canadian Award. Created in 1995, these awards recognize individuals who volunteer their time to help others, building a smarter and more caring nation.
“As I reflect upon it, I am so touched that our society has such an award,” Currie says. “It is not for business achievement, academic achievement, artistic achievement, but simply for caring. What a strong statement about a society.”
Currie was nominated by long-time friends Cathy Auld, Jane Ursel, Kathy Strachan and Sharon Carstairs.
“[His] life can be summed up as focused on making life’s journey better for others,” Auld says.
Born in 1934, Currie grew up in Winnipeg in a close-knit family.
“He has told stories of his family’s quiet generosity, expressed in the depression years by sharing food, lodging and clothing with men who showed up at their door seeking work. The family’s income was modest,” Auld explains.
Although Currie dreamed of additional education opportunities, the fact he had older siblings made it very difficult. Without the anonymous benefactor, specialized education likely would not have been possible.
Currie joined the Franciscan Order in the 1950s, was ordained in the 1960s, and later left the priesthood to embark on a well-measured life served in the interests of the community. In academic life at the University of Manitoba Currie earned a reputation as a renowned researcher in the areas of urban sociology, religion, mental health, addiction, and vulnerable single parents. He served as the dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1991 to 1999.
Throughout the decades of his busy academic career, and since retiring in 2000, Currie has served on as many as five community-based non-profit boards at a time. He is discerning as to where he places his considerable energy, passion and attention. Motivated by compassion, insight, intelligence and wisdom, Currie has served with Villa Rosa, Prairieaction Foundation, New Directions, Manitoba Special Olympics and most recently Epic Opportunities, amongst others.
Currie and his wife Charlene married later in life and chose to adopt a son and daughter, both of whom suffer from severe mental disabilities.
Currie was one of five Winnipeggers to be honoured with a Caring Canadian Award during the Community Foundations of Canada national conference held in Winnipeg in June.
Click here for more information about the Caring Canadian Awards.
This is part of a series on the recent Caring Canadian Award winners from Winnipeg. Click here to read about other recipients.