Vancouver LGBT community legend Jim Deva's magic lives on in scholarships

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      Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium manager Janine Fuller gave an emotional tribute to bookstore cofounder and LGBT community hero Jim Deva at the 2015 Pride Legacy Awards on May 28 at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

      She talked about how the Alberta-born Deva started Vancouver's first queer bookstore, Little Sister's, in 1983 with his longtime partner Bruce Smith.

      "He moved from Alberta," she explained to the audience as she struggled with tears, "because his very redneck family members said, 'You know what? You can't be here. You have to move. We do not accept you being queer in any way, shape, or form, and you're never gonna get the portion of the family farm that you always dreamed of being a part of.' "

      She said he launched and ran the store with "love, friendship, and an unbelievable passion for community".

      Tragically, Deva died in September 2014 when he fell off a ladder.

      "It was a day that was, like, unbelievably beautiful," Fuller said. "We all saw him that day. Everyone would come in that day and go 'Oh my god, I just saw him.' It was the most beautiful day…just the most magic day. And when I saw magic, anyone who knows Jim—that's his word. That is Deva. Deva was magic, is magic, and I have to believe there's still a bit of magic, still in all of us."

      Little Sister's cofounder Jim Deva
      Charlie Smith

      The LOUD Business Association is ensuring that Deva's magic lives on.

      LOUD's Blair Smith announced that this year, the sixth annual LOUD Awards—a charitable scholarship foundation for B.C. queer youth and allies which stands for leadership, opportunity, unity, and diversity—will present two inaugural Jim Deva memorial scholarships.

      Deva was a longtime member of the organization and was on the awards selection committee.

      "He often said it was his favourite day of the year," Smith said of the awards.

      In partnership with Vancouver Pride, Smith also announced that LOUD will present new Vancouver Pride scholarships in 2016.

      Meanwhile, Smith presented the Purple (Youth) Pride Legacy Award.

      "The people who are nominated in this category have shown a lot of bravery," he said. "Just because we can get married today and just because things are supposedly easier and having GSAs, QSAs, it's still adolescence. It's still highschool."

      The finalists for the award included Alannah Safnuk, Mikaelah Hauesser, and Caroline Doerksen.

      Safnuk is a Grade 12 student at York House School, where she has been a part of the Gay-Straight Alliance. Safnuk has helped develop York House School’s Personal Health Program to include diversity and anti-bullying workshops, and built a relationship between the school and Out in Schools.

      Haeusser has been a member of her school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance since 2013. She is also a member of the Vancouver District Queer Straight Alliance and was one of two student representatives on the Vancouver School Board’s Pride Advisory Committee.

      Doerksen won the award. For more about her, please see our coverage of the event.

      The sixth annual LOUD Awards will take place on Thursday (June 4) at Steamworks Brewpub (375 Water Street).

      Seven scholarships will be awarded. The evening will be hosted by Robert Keiser (who is often known as drag queen Joan-E) with entertainment by the frank theatre.

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      Blair Smith @agentblair

      Jun 1, 2015 at 7:42pm

      Thank you for a very heartwarming article. I would like everyone to support Little Sister's for their everyday needs, books, gifts, cards, toys. They have supported the whole community for decades. We miss Jim personally and collectively very much, and are honoured to be a small part of his enduring legacy.
      In 2015 in collaboration with his colleagues and family we are only granting a percentage of the dedicated fund. The idea is to have this fund grow and last forever. Thank you to the many individuals who have donated to this registered charitable fund. And thank you to both Vancity and TD Canada Trust for making this fund healthier with their contributions last fall of $5000 each!
      Proof that Jim was respected by the biggest corporations while fighting for the unseen common man for the good of our community and country.
      Jim inspired and encouraged untold numbers of people to 'do the right thing', opening doors and soothing wounds when necessary. Magic indeed.
      You may contribute to this fund at
      And you can also continue to be good Canadian citizens, he would like that.