Alan Mirabelli (1948–2017) was a devoted member of the Vanier Institute team for more than 30 years, serving as Executive Director of Administration and Director of Communications. While Alan is well known for his dedicated and distinguished career of enhancing the national understanding of families in Canada, he was equally remarkable for his artistic talent, which he expressed through photography.
Alan embraced photography as a means of finding peace, exploring and nurturing his creative side, and ultimately to better knowing oneself. To him, photography was a means of “looking outward to see within,” a contemplative and meditative process that was an end in its own right but also a means of self-reflection that became increasingly important to him throughout his life until his death.
While his photography began as a solitary passion, Alan also enjoyed collaborating with other artists (some of whom appeared in his later work) and fostering and supporting creative expression in others through his guidance and mentoring.
Artistic expression, he felt, can not only help the individual, but can also be a powerful form of knowledge translation. Information, insights and understanding can be powerfully conveyed through art, and Alan wanted to support creative and innovative forms of knowledge-sharing throughout – and even beyond – his lifetime.
To that end, the Vanier Institute’s Alan Mirabelli Fund for Creativity and Innovation has been established to increase our understanding of families and family life through creativity, innovation and artistic expression through diverse mediums and approaches.
“Alan was a complex combination of many things to those who knew him: friend, colleague, mentor, author, lecturer, advocate, administrator, teacher, storyteller, craftsman, artist, father, grandfather, community builder, inspirer, the conscience of a nation in regard to families and a dignified man during his life, especially so in the manner of his leaving it.”
– Al MacKay (former Board member, President and interim Executive Director of the Vanier Institute), Remembering Alan Mirabelli