In Memory of Wilson Mendes
Wilson Pereira Mendes, a true blessing to this world, left us on May 30, 2023. Throughout his journey, Wilson possessed a remarkable ability to make others feel seen, supported, and loved. He radiated joy and positivity, brightening the lives of those he encountered.
Born on June 2, 1974, in Aquidauana, Brazil, Wilson carried a deep love for his homeland and was committed to learning and proudly sharing his Indigenous Terena and Guarani-Kaiowá/Mozambican cultural teachings. As a Sun Dancer and community leader, Wilson was committed to social and environmental justice and improving the lives of Indigenous people. He spent his life advocating for equity and sustainability, never wavering in his devotion to improving humanity.
Wilson pursued a Master’s in Indigenous Planning and a PhD in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems. His doctorate took place on the unceded traditional and ancestral Territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) People, at xwc̓ic̓əsəm Garden at UBC Farm. Wilson’s research focused on the intersection of Indigenous regenerative land-based education and Indigenous food sovereignty to support Indigenous urban youth’s health, identity, and wellness. As an Indigenous scholar, Wilson contributed to creating and holding safe and sacred spaces to support the voices and visions of Indigenous peoples worldwide in response to colonialism, climate change, and capitalism. He left an incredible legacy of inspiration, hope, and motivation for those battling discrimination, inequality, and social injustice.
Wilson’s love and dedication to his family was inspiring. Wilson was a cherished son to his mother, Terezinha Pereira Mendes, and dear grandson to the late Maria Toledo Mendes and Alcides Pereira Mendes who helped raise him. His early formative years were shared with his cousins Robson, Evelin, Aparecida, Cristiane, Alcindio, and Reinaldo, forging deep bonds that lasted a lifetime. He was a devoted husband and partner to Fiona Smulders for twelve rich years, and a caring and supportive Father to his three beautiful children João Victor Mendes, Attila Kovacs-Mendes, and Jade Mendes. He has now joined his Father Wilson Pereira Alves and grandparents and will remain in the hearts of his family forever.
May Wilson’s spirit continue to dance under the sun, guiding and inspiring all who were touched by his love and light.
His family and the entire community are grieving his loss. If you are interested and able to lend support, a Go Fund Me has been set up (here), along with a meal train for Fiona (here). All are invited to share memories and photos on a Facebook tribute page (here).
Please share widely with the individuals and communities he inspired and continues to inspire.
Remember to take excellent care of yourself and others as we support Wilson in his next spiritual quest.