On the morning of May 1, Luke Jansen submitted his BA (Hons) thesis entitled YEGLive: The Effects of Cultural Policy on Live Music Venues in Edmonton. Luke approached his project with wit, insight and practicality. His thesis began: “For every punk rocker wallowing in cloud of nostalgia so thick you can’t even see his Sex Pistols tattoo, there exists a film, academic essay or news article decrying the loss of a city’s historic live music venues.” It concluded: “Turnover of live music venues in Edmonton will never completely end. But with substantive alterations to the cultural policy of the city, venues will have been given the opportunity to succeed, and that punk rocker will have a heyday to enjoy.” On the evening of May 1, Luke played with his folk band, North of Here (including Ian St. Arnaud and Will Holowaychuk) at The Needle Vinyl Tavern, one of the new venues Luke wrote about. Luke was right – cities need live music, Edmonton’s venues have come and gone, but the city needs more and policy makers should pay attention.
Luke died accidentally, tragically on October 6, 2017 at the age of 22. To read Luke’s life cycle metaphor for Edmonton’s live music scene is painful now. He left thousands of people to grieve and remember his successes and potential, his gifts for friendship and leadership, and a life that ended much too soon. The Department of Political Science was one of Luke’s communities, and we – undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, staff, and faculty – mourn Luke’s absence from our lives. We are heartbroken for Luke’s family in Sherwood Park – his mother, father, brother, and grandparents – his extended family throughout the world, his bandmates, and his friends in all the other communities of which he was an integral part.
Luke was a superb young scholar of Political Science. As an entering student, Luke received the William and Mary Hawrysh Memorial Leadership Scholarship for his extracurricular and community activities. In 2016, he won the Stephen and Lynn Mandel Scholarship in Political Science for academic achievement. In 2017, he was awarded the Alison White/Faculty of Arts Honours Prize for the graduating honours student with the highest career GPA in the Social Sciences. Characteristically, Luke delightedly announced on Facebook that “as a parting gift” the University awarded him a new bass guitar.
In addition to these academic achievements, Luke refereed boys basketball for six years, was an Orientation Volunteer with the University and served on the Political Science Undergraduate Association executive for three years, including as president in 2016-17.
Several of Luke’s Political Science colleagues and professors have shared their memories of Luke.
Roger Epp: In a seminar on Ethics and International Relations that was sometimes divided by modes of thinking as well as by politics, Luke distinguished himself for his thoughtfulness, his openness and his consideration for others. He thought carefully, above all, about his own ethical formation and its shifts, his relatively privileged position, and his desire to live well in the world.
Nicole Marshall: As a student in Introduction to Political Theory Luke was rare gem who advanced the knowledge and capacities of his peers through his own engagement with the world around him.
Jim Lightbody: I taught Luke in three classes during the final year of his degree. He was an enthusiastic student of local government and politics, and his first job upon graduating was with Strathcona County. For his major research paper in one course, he investigated an important question for several larger Alberta municipalities concerning live music venue licences. As Luke was himself a professional musician his essay was clearly informed by that vantage point and life experience. His paper combined firsthand knowledge, evidence he collected about cities internationally, and interviews with people important in Edmonton’s live music community. His final presentation in the classroom was entirely professional and he clearly improved the knowledge base of his fellow students.
Daisy Raphael: I think I first met Luke in the spring of 2016 when he was wrangling up graduate students and professors to take part in the PSUA's bonspiel. My friend Leigh and I formed a team, the ‘Hurry Harders,’ and ended up winning due mostly to Leigh's skills. Luke and I had a chuckle when he presented us with the only prize they could afford: a small trophy, two bottles of caramel vodka, and two bottles of cheap tequila. Last year, Luke and I and our respective teams organized a US election party at Devaney's. He also volunteered with the PSGSA last year at the Hurtig Lecture. Besides Luke's intelligence, talent, and kind demeanour, the thing that struck me most about him was his desire to see the department be a fun community.
Mia Bottos: There were four of us who called ourselves the POLS 220 crew because Linda Trimble’s Intro to Candian Politics class was where our friendship all began. I admired Luke enormously as a student; his writing style and clarity seemed to flow so effortlessly from him, even in his text messages! Outside of classes, probably the best time I ever had with Luke was back in January, when each of us were doing something we loved: Luke, being a photographer, was taking photographs; and I, being a narcissist, was having him take photos of me. My favourite photo from the day was one where he captured me laughing at something he said. I am so grateful to have this constant reminder of how lucky I was to have him as one of my best friends and a source of positivity in my life.
Judy Garber and Steve Patten: We were, respectively, Luke’s honors thesis supervisor and the instructor for the course our honors students take while they are writing their theses. We were fortunate to have Luke come our way, for a full year, as an honors student. Both of us bonded with Luke over our collective love of folk music and live music and we all shared an interest in public policy. All of us also aspired to having Luke craft an excellent thesis – and he did. We’ve been reminiscing about the class that Luke cheekily cancelled. He sent a message to Steve informing him that "they" had decided it wasn't necessary to meet. Steve cancelled the class; Luke got time to work on an overdue chapter. Steve encountered North of Here at the 2016 Canmore Folk Festival before he met Luke in class. He last heard North of Here – and last saw Luke – at the band’s career-making three-performance stint at the 2017 Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Judy finally had a chance to see Luke play during the University’s 2017 Week of Welcome – a precious gift indeed. It was a glorious, hot day, the Quad was buzzing, Luke’s mom, dad and brother were there, and the future was limitless.