In Loving Memory of Ulrike Bemvinda Rodrigues

We are sorry to share the news that Ulrike died unexpectedly on January 3, 2021 due to a neurological event at age 59. As far as we can tell she died at home in her sleep. The coroner has not yet completed an autopsy.

Ulrike will be missed by many, including her mother Ursula Rodrigues, widowed, brother and sister-in-law Jürgen and Kim Rodrigues, brother and sister-in-law Yvan (Tiger) and Sarah Rodrigues, high-school friend Chris Sprague, and countless friends across the world.

Ulrike spent her youth in Guelph, Ontario.  She attended Centennial High School, involved in the school newspaper and Guelph's emerging punk rock scene. She graduated from University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Arts, and worked in graphics and commercial art before moving to Vancouver in her late twenties.

In recent years she has focused on writing, cycling, and travel, and has played a key role in Vancouver's homes-not-hotels movement as Vancouver residents found affordable housing displaced by Air-BnB rentals. Throughout her life Ulrike has welcomed a diverse array of friends. She has contributed to the music and arts communities, and has been heavily involved in the Vancouver bike scene.

A few months ago Ulrike started experiencing symptoms of loss of memory, difficulty writing and using the computer, and fatigue resulting in her quitting her job to pursue testing. Sadly the problem was more severe and acute than anyone realized, and she passed away before her scheduled MRI appointment later in the month.

Ulrike generously willed her apartment to Atira Women's Resource Society to be used as furnished housing, and her savings to create an endowment fund called Basic Needs + Mitey Deeds – a legacy fund to connect women and girls to shelter, support, and potential.

Respecting her wishes, there will not be a funeral. Please help commemmorate her by sharing your memories here.

Share Your Memories

Please take a moment to share your memories and photos of the time you have spent with Ulrike by clicking this link: Share a memory.

by Etta on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - 13:07

Inquisitive. Adventurous. Engaging. Long walks, candid talks. Neighbourhood cafes and curry diners. Travel tales and activist spiels. Fearless ventures on the Honda Cub....and other wheels. The visit to the owl rescue sanctuary and then sighting the snowy owls in Boundary Bay. 

by Janis Harper on Sunday, January 24, 2021 - 11:48

 

Although I first knew of Ulrike in connection with bicycle advocacy, I didn’t get to know her until she submitted to my anthology “Emails From India: Women Write Home,” and I selected her thoughtful piece “Bicycles and Bare Breasts” for publication in it (Seraphim Editions, 2013). We first met at another contributor’s house at a party to celebrate the book’s imminent launch in fall 2013; and Uli read beautifully at the overly crowded Vancouver launch at Café Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive, as well as the following year at a reading of the book on Gabriola Island.

 

Ulrike was good at making things happen. She helped snag an invite for me to present “Emails From India” at the Goa Arts and Literary Festival (2014) in India; we stayed at the same hotel (which she had arranged) and spent time together in Panjim and at the festival. She was on one panel with me at the festival, and when the festival coordinators suddenly needed a host for a workshop, Ulrike jumped right in. She wasn’t afraid of speaking publicly, and knew how to hold the attention of an audience. Calm, articulate, intelligent, she commanded the stage while generating warmth and an invitation to connect. And that’s also what struck me about Ulrike—her ability to orchestrate connections with people and projects, and to lend whatever talents were required. She had a nose for promotion, too. She was savvy.

 

I know Ulrike’s discovery of her Goan roots enriched her life greatly, and that is what brought us together—India, and writing about it. We kept in touch when we both lived in Vancouver and saw each other occasionally. Smart, vibrant, ridiculously beautiful, articulate, adventurous, up for anything . . . Ulrike Rodrigues. Thank you for sharing your stories, yourself, with us all. I treasure all you brought to my life. May this journey be your best one yet.

by Paul Mendes on Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 17:12

I met Ulrike through her battles against AirBnB operators at the Fairfax. She was a lovely lady who really stuck her neck out when it counted.  Such a kind and gentle soul. 

by Hugh Piggins on Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 15:37

I got to know Ulrike (or Rik as she went by back then) while we were in high school in the late 1970s. We took some classes together and she cajoled me into writing (very) occasional contributions to the school newsletter that she edited. At high school, she was already independently minded and one of the few people interested in punk and new wave music. She introduced many of us to Patti Smith and we learned that she was passionate in her beliefs and that you needed to be able to fight your corner if she challenged you. She was also a very warm and considerate person and someone you could bounce ideas and thoughts off of in the negotiation of those awkward late teen years.  

Following high school, our paths diverged as I was the traveler, inter-railing around Europe and studying in the UK, while Rik stayed in Guelph.  We exchanged letters a couple of times a year and I always looked forward to hers as she expertly interweaved a bit of gossip with thoughts on culture and the utility of higher education. We briefly overlapped in Guelph in the mid-80s, but after that, we lost touch as we both left the city for different parts of Canada.

Some 20 years later we reconnected over an interest in touring bicycles, and an erratic exchange of emails ensued. About 8 years ago I happened to be passing through Vancouver and I sent her a last-minute email hoping she’d be around. As good fortune would have it, she was. Ulrike re-arranged her plans at very short notice and was a great host, with a refined knowledge of local hostelries and expert advice on what to see and do in Vancouver.  She delighted in bringing me up to speed with her numerous travel plans and local activism as well as the latest news of her family. It was wonderful to see her and to witness at first hand that she had lost none of her warmth, spark and spirit. We promised we would try to keep in regular touch, but our correspondence remained stochastic.  

It was a great shock to learn of Ulrike’s sudden passing. I always admired her fearlessness and adventurous free-spirited nature and I occasionally lived vicariously through reading of her travels.  It is clear from other tributes here that Ulrike led a full and rich life and touched many people. The world is a lesser place with her gone and I will miss the thought of her cycling in far flung corners of globe.  My sincere condolences to her family and many friends.

by Julie (Sprague) Wilson on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 15:18

I was a friend of Ulrike in high school. She was quick-witted, clever and enthusiastic, and was immediately accepted into our group when she moved from Toronto to Guelph.

Jurgen, I cannot believe Ulrike ever played with Barbies; that is so unlike the "Rikki" I knew!

Although we drifted apart, Ulrike was still part of my life, as I heard of her many escapades with and through my sister Chris. I was never as bold and daring as Ulrike, and am in awe of her many adventures that I've read of here.

My condolences to the whole family; you have lost a much-loved treasure! Tiger and Jurgen, I remember with fondness how much she cared for you both, and was not shy to express that, even as a teenager. Thank you to the family for making me welcome in your home so many years ago!

by John DeCorso on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 09:23

I am so sorry to hear that Ulrike passed away. We were in a great group of friends at Centennial CVI in Guelph in the late 70s. I lost touch with her after high school, but it's wonderful to read of her many contributions and initiatives. My sincere condolences to her family and friends. The picture was taken in 1978 or 1979 in Rockwood, Ontario, during a short autumn hike.

by Cyprian Fernandes on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 17:12

There is greatness and Ulrike, in the same breath. I did not know but my soul has been nourished by her writings, her wonderful humanity and the unique soul she was.  My heart cries for her and the tears of all the people who have signed and others who have acknowledged will celebrate her forever. If  U knew U, then you must have been blessed.

by Gwen Varns on Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 21:38

Ulie my dear friend, over the past 13 years you’ve been my faithful companion over countless shared meals, cocktails, comedy - good and bad, plays, dance, movies, multiple road trips to Washington state and that horrible time we checked out theatre sports.

In August during our annual trip to Havana for Mojitos you disclosed that you were struggling to understand the computer system at your new job. I tried to assure you sometimes it takes us older folks more time to learn new things. In September you took me to a “new” restaurant for my 50th birthday but didn’t realize we had been there before and both agreed to never go back. I laughed because I hadn't recognized the name of the restaurant but you were more concerned as your issues at work had not gone away. And on a sunny November day over a beautiful lunch you told me you quit your job as the cognitive issues were not resolving, that the doctor was running tests but nothing was confirmed. I let you know that I was there for you and could see by your reaction that you felt that to be true.

We’ve had many amazing times together but that day stood out as one of the most lovely and heartwarming. I felt honoured to be your friend and know the feeling was mutual. Sadly, that was the last time I saw you and now feel gutted that I couldn’t make a date happen in December.

We’ve both been through so much in 13 years and have been steadfast at each others side through it all. I’ve admired your ability to unabashedly sit at a bar by yourself and you said you admired my ability to tell it like it is. I feel so absolutely devastated by your loss Ulie and I want you to know how much I love and admire you. I miss you terribly my dear friend.

by Janet Hughes on Friday, January 15, 2021 - 02:30

Ulrike was a wonderful friend during one of the most difficult times of my life (mid 80s in Guelph) and although we ended up at opposite ends of the Earth, we still occasionally got in touch. Opinionated but fair and always supportive and kind - but never taking any bullshit. She was always unashamedly herself. Ulrike, you were a bright star, so full of energy and life. You will be sorely missed. I’m sure that she’ll be telling those in the afterlife what they could be doing better.

by Yvan Rodrigues on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 13:32

Ulrike's endowment fund is now able to accept donations. Donations can be made online, or writing a cheque to Vancity Community Foundation and writing Basic Needs and Mitey Deeds on the memo line. Cheques can be mailed to:

Vancity Community Foundation
409 - 312 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6A 2T2

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