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facts & arguments

Susan Leslie (Sue) Campbell

Teacher, feminist philosopher, poet, loyal friend, avid gardener, lover of coffee shops, beer and bad movies, loving partner, sister, friend and aunt. Born Aug. 31, 1956, in Edmonton. Died Feb. 12, 2011, in Halifax of breast cancer, aged 54.

One of three daughters, Sue was born into the gregarious Edmonton family of Bill and Pat Campbell. She often reminisced about the many times her parents' house was full of extended family, all gathered around the piano singing while Aunt Betty played. Or of the many convivial times spent at the family cottage at Ma-Me-O Beach. Family, especially her sisters Katy and Lori, and friendship were central to her life.

Sue majored in philosophy at the University of Alberta, where her exceptional abilities were recognized early on by both professors and fellow students. Several lifelong friendships were forged at this time, which Sue attended to with the same care and reflection she brought to both philosophy and gardening. She wrote her PhD dissertation at the University of Toronto on emotion, which formed the basis of her first influential book, Interpreting the Personal: Expression and the Formation of Feelings.

Sue worked tirelessly because she felt the clarity she could bring to a subject could provide resources for those who had been marginalized. Her fiercely honest perspective was always tempered by compassion, generosity and humour (sometimes dark, sometimes gentle). To be Sue's friend was to laugh a lot.

In 1991, she met her beloved partner Jan Sutherland. They moved to Halifax in 1992 with their two cats, Stanley and Lili, where Sue taught at Dalhousie University in the philosophy department and the women's studies program.

The word "taught," however, seems inadequate to convey the degree to which Sue was committed to her students and colleagues. She had the courage not only to explore what interested her and seemed important, whether it was academically trendy or not, but also to encourage her students to do the same. Her dedication both to her work and the communities she cared about took their toll on her physically, but Sue never let that divert her, co-editing books and writing many papers.

Sue's second award-winning book, Relational Remembering: Rethinking the Memory Wars, led to her being asked to contribute two timely and relevant discussion papers on memory to the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

As her health failed over the past two years, Sue refused to indulge in self-pity. Time spent at Frog Hollow, the cabin she and Jan acquired at Shingle Lake in central Nova Scotia, was a source of great comfort and joy to Sue, as was their rescue dog, Sugar. After her death, Sue's friends and family gathered at Charlie's Club in Halifax and at Brewsters in Edmonton to honour her with memories, music, tears and beer.

By Sue's partner, Jan Sutherland, her sisters Lori and Katy Campbell, and friends Rocky Jacobsen and David Checkland