A young New Westminster woman’s legacy lives on through her family, friends and community.
Olivia Malcom was just 19 years old when she was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident in Ladner on June 2, 2018, when heading home from a lacrosse game in Delta. On Monday, June 10, family, friends and community members joined Olivia’s parents, Tony and Bridget, and her sister Erica at a vigil outside Queen’s Park Arena to share her legacy on what would have been her 20th birthday.
“The whole night is really just about gratitude and kindness,” said Olivia’s mom Bridget Malcom. “It’s sharing stories of Olivia and the impact she has left behind with everybody who cares about her.”
The Malcom family presented the Camp Kerry Society with a $5,000 donation to go towards its programs, which support bereaved families, people living with terminal illness and those impacted by death/trauma in the workplace. The society offers a youth program and also hosts bereavement retreats for families who have suffered a loss.
“Olivia absolutely loved the outdoors,” Malcom said. “For her, to be able to give back and send these youth to camps, where they can deal with their grief and things like that, we just thought was very, very fitting.”
Heather Mohan, executive director of Camp Kerry and a registered clinical counsellor, appreciates the generous donation from the Olivia Malcom Kindness Foundation.
"Losing a child is one of the most life-changing and difficult experiences that any parent could ever face. The fact that the Malcom family has chosen, in the midst of their own grief, to create a charitable foundation that honours and continues their daughter’s legacy of beauty and kindness, is a remarkable and generous act,” she said. “Their donation will go directly to help provide counselling and support for New Westminster children and families who are struggling to re-build their lives after the death of a loved one.”
Monday night’s vigil also marked the unveiling of a new memorial bench in front of Queen’s Park Arena – a place Olivia knew well from her years of playing and watching lacrosse games.
“We knew early on we would love to have a memorial bench at Queen’s Park Arena,” Malcom said. “Olivia was there 10 days after she was born. She has played in it, she has watched in it. Everyone welcomed her with open arms 10 days after she was born, when I brought her to her first lacrosse game.”
Following Malcom’s death, a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $110,000 for the Olivia Malcom Kindness Bursary.
“My goal was to hope for $2,500 being raised so we could do a $500 annual bursary. I said, after the five years, we will figure out how to raise more money,” Malcom recalled. “For it to far exceed $100,000 was beyond astonishing to us. We had no idea that there would be such an outpouring of love towards our daughter.”
In the years ahead, the Olivia Malcom Kindness Foundation will disperse the funds raised to ensure her essence of kindness and compassion carries on.
“What’s most important for us is that Olivia’s legacy continues far beyond our existence here on earth,” Malcom said. “This foundation being created has been beyond heartwarming.”
In addition to Olivia’s mom, other speakers at Monday’s gathering included her friend Nicole Del Grosso and two of Tony Malcom’s colleagues at New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services, firefighters Alasdair Dunbar and Chris Clapton. The New Westminster Firefighters’ Charitable Society has assisted the family with planning of the memorial bench and making a donation to the Camp Kerry Society, a charity that the charitable society has supported in the past.
Last week, New Westminster Secondary School graduating students Farouk Ibrahim and Erica Malcom received the inaugural Olivia Malcom Kindness Bursary, which will go to a student who exemplifies what Olivia stood for – her kindness and her ability to encourage others to be their best. While the family had asked that Olivia’s sister be excluded from the selection process, the scholarship bursary committee was steadfast in its belief that she should receive the bursary.
“They were like, ‘Well, we know what you asked of us, but she absolutely personifies exactly the criteria you have set out, and we really feel strongly she would receive it.’ We said, ‘Can you please just give us 24 hours to think on this?’ So, we accepted – only under the condition we can also award one other bursary. They said they really wanted Erica to receive the inaugural award and then one of her classmates was awarded the other bursary,” Malcom said. “Again, that’s from the foundation. Moving forward it will be one annual bursary in the amount of $2,000 that will be awarded for many years to come.”
While on her way home from a lacrosse game in Ladner with her boyfriend and a friend, Malcom was killed after being struck by a vehicle when she and a friend got out of the vehicle on the side of the road to check for something in the trunk. Police are still investigating Malcom's death.