In Memory of Derek Michael Michel

September 6, 1993 – October 27, 2020

Derek was born in Vancouver but grew up in Victoria from babyhood through teens.  He spent a few years in New Westminster before returning to Victoria in his 20’s. Derek was well loved by the many branches of his large complicated family and they will all cherish memories of their adventures and connections throughout his life.  He was a beloved son, brother, grandson, uncle, cousin and friend. Derek was kind, loving, gentle, smart, funny and loyal. He will be missed by everyone who was blessed enough to know him. His brother Mark, who he loved fiercely and had great respect for, was his best friend and sidekick. They were a team like no other. 

 Derek has a collection of Moms– his birth mom, Yvette and his other moms, Sue S and Sue C. Derek loved them all and never got them confused. They each cherished Derek and Derek cherished them. 

 Derek is also missed by Kris, his “brother from another mother” and his niece, Ayla. The dinners, the laughs, the gingerbread houses and all the traditions they shared– so much love and so many memories. 

 Derek had a wicked sense of humour.  His biggest fan and adoring Grandpa Dave called him “The Little Guy” his entire life and considered him ‘a comic genius.’ Their love was strong and legendary. Grandma Jane was always there with her quiet wisdom, common sense, a to-do list and usually a good book. Aunties, uncles and cousins galore, they all loved him dearly and have great stories to tell.

Derek was no saint, that’s for sure and volumes could be written about his ‘wild side escapades.’ As a result, Derek’s village is filled with many white haired folks who learned much about acceptance, tolerance and patience.  They unfailingly stayed the course and never gave up.  And they are better people for it. 

 Derek lived with FASD which caused severe learning disabilities so he struggled greatly in the school system.  Derek learned differently.  However, in spite of his disabilities, he was multi-talented and easily picked up hands-on skills from building tables at age 10, to bicycle mechanics, auto-mechanics, drumming, moving seniors, beekeeping and driving farm machinery while in high school, to confidently cooking for groups and DJ’ing in young adulthood.   Derek connected with all ages from little kids through elders and by his quiet wisdom and example inspired many along the way. Derek brought people together in his own unassuming way. His loving Sts’ailes family–Derek came to know many of them and did his best to learn about his people and his culture.  And all of his other large extended families–Simard/Janisses, Coyles, Connells and Welton/Reids– our families are now connected forever. 

Derek gathered many friends along his way. He had a passion for knowledge and politics and was an unwavering NDP supporter who worked on many campaigns with his grandma and grandpa over the years.

Derek also had an amazing extended community: White Crow Village, a camp for families with children who have FASD. (Derek attended as a young person and then worked there later as a counselor.); Unity Drummers, always there, always loving and accepting; Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services who never wavered in their support for Derek and his entire family;. the Youth Door in New Westminster, The Last Door’s treatment centre for youth where he flourished and made forever friends; the recovery community, a huge part of Derek’s life.

At the age of 8 Derek came to live with the family that was chosen for him, a loving home with 2 moms in recovery who lived their life based on the 12 step program. Derek often said he was really glad that Sue and Sue found him. They felt the same. As a teenager Derek began his own journey on the same path. He was well known and loved by both the AA and NA communities and his spirit will live on in those rooms and in their hearts forever. Derek lost his battle with addiction and died of a fentanyl overdose at the age of 27. Please reach out to those who are struggling.  Be kind and be safe.  Recovery begins with the first step.  Always remember that it’s Just For Today.

Derek made the world a better place and we are all blessed to have known him. 

Derek wrote in a school assignment when he was 13 that, if he had 10 million dollars, he would see a financial planner, take care of his brother and mother, and donate to the Mustard Seed, Project Literacy and Habitat for Humanity. Donations in his memory would be welcomed.  We will celebrate Derek’s life at a future date.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Thanks for bringing Derek into my life. I miss him.

  2. It was a priviledge to know Derek.

  3. Sorry he left us too soon. Very nice young man. I am glad to have known you Derek. You were loved by many, a special reminder how you touched others. May God take you into his loving arms

  4. I have been searching for this write up since the end of Oct. I’m heart broken You are no longer among us my friend. You were a kind and giving human who made my life better by knowing you. There are no words… I miss you. Sending love and light to all those are hurting from this great loss.

  5. My condolences to Derek’s family. It was a pleasure to know him in the short time we did. Too young to leave, this cruel old world.

    Rest In Peace DJ.

  6. What a beautifly writen orbital. Thanks you.
    Hugh Schmid

  7. Frank Mariscak

    I was impressed with Derek. He would meet with us (Terry, Dave, Hugh and me, Frank) in Fernwood. We would be talking about politics. Derek would fire up his cell phone and computer and point out articles and videos of support and opposition about the politics of the time. I wondered how he ever got so much knowledge to pull all that together so well.
    Derek was a loving person towards others and I will miss him.

  8. My friend, I think of you often, and miss you! So sad you are gone 😭❤

  9. You have been on my mind, my friend, miss you….

  10. Cyrene Cardriver

    Derek’s presence in my life set me on a path with Indigenous Studies that has made me an infinitely better person. I feel really lucky to have met him and Mark, and the quiet wisdom of them both. This is a beautiful tribute for a beautiful man, thank you for sharing it.

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