Heather Joan Kennedy-MacNeill

July 15, 1950February 8, 2021

We mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Heather Kennedy-MacNeill, a devoted lifelong activist and fiercely loving partner, daughter, sister, mother and friend. Heather passed away on February 8th, surrounded by family and friends far and wide.

Heather was born in Toronto in 1950, the eldest of Dorothy and Alan MacNeill’s three much-loved daughters. Heather’s parents imparted a strong network of friendships and a love of the outdoors, both of which became integral to her own life. Lifelong friendships were founded in her neighbourhood and at summer camp, and time spent at Muskoka nurtured a love of canoeing that she would continue over her life.

Heather started university at Trent, but after two years left to fight for peace, women’s rights, and social justice as part of the “radical” social movement of the 60s and 70s. In 1973, Heather moved out west to Vancouver with friends and she soon became active in union organizing at the University of British Columbia. With many others, she leafletted, organized meetings, and held rallies, the end result of which was a union contract that, among other things, granted the first ever-paid maternity leave benefits in Canada.

Heather’s love of the outdoors and desire to conquer a fear of bears and cougars led her to Vancouver Island and an outdoor leadership program at Strathcona Park Lodge. Her network of friends then led her to the Comox Valley where she began a family. For many years, Heather was the single mother of daughters Sarah, Sophie, and Emma. During that, time she worked at the newly formed Women’s Centre, and then went to UBC to finish her undergraduate degree and Master’s in Social Work. At UBC she built up a community of friends and extended family, providing her daughters with a childhood that was rich in love and adventure. Her activism was steeped in everything that she did, including her parenting, and her kids came with her to both peace marches and her thesis defense.

Heather returned to the Comox Valley that she loved after finishing her Master’s degree, and soon met the love of her life, Murray Kennedy. Both committed to social justice and their communities, together they merged and built a deeper network of friends between Courtenay and Powell River.

As a social worker, Heather worked for Mental Health and Addictions Services, where her compassion and energy made her a committed counsellor and advocate for her clients. Retiring in 2010, Heather devoted herself more fully to volunteer work: to teaching Voluntary Simplicity, to her community within the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship, and to her many other interests, including starting up piano lessons after many years. Travel included adventures abroad to Turkey, Italy, and Mexico, and trips to visit her daughter and grandchildren in New Zealand. It also included many trips back to Ontario to visit life-long friends and to spend time at the cottage with her mom, sisters, and their families.

Heather is remembered by her husband Murray Kennedy-MacNeill, her three daughters Sarah Noakes (Stephen), Sophie MacNeill, and Emma MacNeill (Neil), her grandchildren Ezra and Eleanor “Nori” Noakes, and grandpuppy “Lou”.

She is predeceased by her father Alan MacNeill, and survived by her mother, Dorothy “Dodie” MacNeill, her sisters Dorothy “Dorsey” MacNeill and Sally Langstroth, niece and nephew Megan and Jamie Nicholls, and many, many friends.

A Celebration of Life for Heather Kennedy-MacNeill will be held virtually on Saturday, February 27, 1:00pm PST using Zoom. Hosted by the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship - for access information, please email

To honour Heather speak up for social justice with compassion, and connect with a loved one.


  • A Celebration Of Life

    Saturday, February 27, 2021


Heather Joan Kennedy-MacNeill

have a memory or condolence to add?

Corrie Baldwin

February 28, 2021

So sorry to hear this news. Sending big condolences to her daughter Sarah (my close friend at UBC family housing) and her sisters Sophie and Emma. I spent a lot of time with you all growing up. As a child, I didn’t realize what a remarkable and strong woman she was. How lucky I was to get to spend so much time with her and you all! Much love and hugs to you all.

Annie Fearman

February 28, 2021

Heather was an amazing person. So honest and down to earth. An absolute treasure to know. With Love Annie Fearman

Shelly Lesperance-Farndon

February 27, 2021

Heather, you will so be missed! I enjoyed very much working with you at Mental Health and Addiction Services. You had such fire and passion for your work, and were always there to support someone with your kind heart and wisdom. Both being active in the Union was great and I enjoyed our conversations.

Condolences to Murray, family and friends. ❤️

Iris Stefan

February 27, 2021

Dear Murray
I am sending you and your family my deepest condolences.
May the love of your family and friends surround you.
sympathy hug,

Louise Chivers

February 26, 2021

Great friend! We helped each and had loads of fun while we were at UBC.

Patti Willis

February 25, 2021

I am sad to know that Heather has died. I remember her from many activist events in the Valley. We have lost an ally for social justice and peace.

My best to her family.

Patti Willis, Denman Island

Kathy Beekman

February 25, 2021

Dear Sally and Family,
I recall fondly the afternoon you brought Heather to our home in Brampton. We had such a nice time.
We are truly saddened for your loss and you are in our thoughts and prayers at this time.
Love, Paul and Kathy Beekman

Kristin Bjarnason

February 24, 2021

I was so saddened to hear of Heather’s death. I worked with Heather for several years and always deeply admired her commitment, dedication and genuine caring of her clients and co-workers. I still have a card that Heather sent me when my 18 year old daughter passed away. The words were so beautiful and heartfelt. I remember when we had a mouse in the office and Heather had us catch and release. No mouse traps. Such a beautiful gentle soul. She will be missed. Thinking of you Murray and your family. With love, Kristin Bjarnason xo

Kathy Smith

February 19, 2021

Heather was a significant influence and role model for me when starting out on my journey of social justice and social work practice. Heather was the first social worker I knew who embodied a feminist and anti oppressive philosophy. I will endeavour to dig even deeper in my practice to honour and nurture the gifts of social justice that Heather shared with myself and so many others.
Blessings to Heather's family.

Marge Storey-Abrahamson

February 19, 2021

Ooh Heather.
I am so sad that you are gone.
I treasure the memories of my time sharing an office next to yours. Your clients were so fortunate to have your ear and support and your affection.
Sending hugs and love and prayers to your family.