February 12, 2014: New Brunswick lost a pioneer today….but many others lost a mentor and a friend… I sometimes referred to Mary Majka as our First Lady of the Environment. She nurtured in others a tremendous ethic – an ethic built on caring for people and creatures…and also caring for culture and places.
Through her actions, she reminded us of the preciousness of all life… there is no ranking system…no one living thing is more important than another. She once said, “My legacy is that I have been able to make people realize that some things are worth saving and protecting and treasuring.”
Farewell, my finest teacher…you slipped away from us, but I will always carry your lessons in my heart. Thank you, thank you. May you be swimming the seas with joy and dancing lightly through the fields you love once more.
Feb. 12, 2014: CBC tribute, video and radio interview
Mary Majka is one of Canada’s great pioneering environmentalists. She is best known as a television host, a conservationist, and a driving force behind the internationally acclaimed Mary’s Point Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve on the Bay of Fundy.
Sanctuary gives full expression to the intensely personal story of Mary’s life. A daughter of privilege, a survivor of World War II Poland, an architect of dreams, Mary Majka became passionately intent on protecting fragile spaces and species for generations to come.
In this amazing story of determination and foresight, Deborah Carr reveals a complex, indomitable, thoroughly human being — flawed yet feisty, inspiring and inspired.
Trade Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Goose Lane Editions (Sept. 24 2010)
List price: $19.95
“I most loved and enjoyed reading the beginning of every chapter when you shared a little of your personal connection with the reader about your visits with Mary. I must admit that although I love nature and being outdoors, reading this book gave me even a greater love for the things nature has to offer. The precious things that are hidden, that we take for granted. I have always been captivated and appreciative of beautiful views that nature has to offer, but perhaps I haven’t been so careful about all the things that actually create those views, the living and breathing flowers, trees, creatures… I can only imagine that hiking and backpacking will feel a little differently now. In a good way…”
As a child, I watched Mary Majka’s television show, Have you Seen? and then twenty years later, my first home as a married woman was on Caledonia Mountain, where I first encountered the well-known New Brunswick naturalist in person and our friendship began. In 2003, I began weekly interviews with Mary. At the time, I didn’t know if her story would become a book, but something in me felt it was important to gather as many of her memories as possible as a record for future generations.
It has been a long journey during which I not only learned the hidden stories of Mary’s life, but also much wisdom for my own.
The result is Sanctuary.
It is the story of how a young Polish girl named Marysia faced sorrow, loss and war alone, and through this discovered a healing connection to nature. It is the story of how she evolved into the award-winning woman known as Mary Majka, who played a key role in preserving the natural and cultural heritage of New Brunswick and encouraged others to pursue their passion and make their own mark on the world.
But beneath all this, it is the story of finding sanctuary – of achieving that sacred place of acceptance and refuge, both in the world and within the soul.
You can learn more about Mary’s life (in a nutshell) on this site: Mary Majka Women Social Activists of Atlantic Canada.