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Derek Mazur

Derek William Mazur

Thursday, February 11th, 2021
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Obituary

The family and friends of Derek William Mazur, 73, are deeply saddened by his death on February 11, 2021 at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.

Derek was born in Edmonton on May 13, 1947 to Linda and Stanley Mazur, who nicknamed him 'Del.' He had two younger sisters, Diane and Darlene, both with a rare genetic condition. Diane adored her older brother, calling him 'Ducky,' a nickname that followed him into adulthood. In high school in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, he was the editor of his school yearbook ('The Beaver'), and worked in the produce department of Safeway to save for university. Derek’s first son, Cris, was born in 1966 from a relationship during high school with Trude LaBossiere Huebner. After years of being apart, Cris contacted Derek in 1993, moved to Winnipeg and was welcomed into the family.

After high school, Derek studied commerce at the University of British Columbia, but Academia could not compete with real-life entrepreneurship and, just two credits short of his degree, he abandoned UBC for the flourishing counterculture scene in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. Working from his apartment above a head shop, Derek could be found cruising up and down West 4th Avenue in his red Austin-Healey, hawking bongs and blacklight posters at hippie hangouts like The Advance Mattress. His love of the arts drew him to the theatre where he worked as a stage manager and lighting director at the Vancouver Playhouse and as a set carpenter at CBC Vancouver. At an after party at the Arts Club, Derek met his first wife, Lara Mazur (nee Borgford), with whom he had a daughter and a son, Johanna and Dylan. In 1971, he and Lara moved to Winnipeg, where he secured a federal government grant to research the development of a community health centre, and soon found himself developing co-operative housing. But Derek’s love of the arts never left him. Nor did his entrepreneurial spirit.

In 1974, with animator Brad Caslor, Derek started a film production company, Credo Group. When the company expanded into live-action filmmaking, initially TV commercials and PSAs, Derek, ever versatile, taught himself directing and producing. In the 1970s and 80s, the Winnipeg film industry was starting to take off and Credo was at the centre of it. Their 120 Sherbrook Avenue office became a hub of activity and something of a hangout for local filmmakers—occasionally even party central—with Derek presiding over it all with generosity and humour. Under his oversight, Credo’s productions included documentaries, short animated films, TV series, Reality TV miniseries, TV movies, and feature films. Joan Scott, who joined the company in 1975 as office manager, became Derek’s production management and producing partner. In 2003, they became husband and wife. Always inclusive, and committed to developing Manitoba talent, Derek and Joan gave many in the film community their start on Credo productions. Over his thirty-year career at Credo, Derek was the recipient of an Emmy Award, a Genie award, and two Geminis, as well as many international festival awards.

Derek had a magnetism to which the word charisma does not do justice. Carrying a cup of coffee from a pot left far too long on the burner and waving his trademark cigarette, he could inspire one listener or a whole room with his latest enthusiasm. His conviction made you want to join him and do your best and when you did, his appreciation was genuine and generous. His creative intelligence was outstanding, a collaborator with a keen sense of authenticity and timing. If a project went sideways, Derek just buckled down until it got fixed, whether by working through the night, picking up a hammer and saw, spending hours on the phones, or mortgaging the family house. He could frustrate with his tendency to leap from one focus to another, but you could never stay angry with Derek. Lunches at the Acropolis could cover topics political, creative and personal, with never an awkward silence. He was honest, caring and committed. He loved to tease, but he never stooped to blaming others for his mistakes or belittling them for theirs.

Great times were had in the Grosvenor Avenue home he shared with Joan and a bewildering parade of offspring and their partners. Derek finally had his dream kitchen—designed to his specifications—where he spent many happy hours cooking and experimenting. That enormous kitchen became family central for dinners, birthday parties, wrap parties and weddings, always with lots of exotic and delicious food made by Derek. On one of Credo’s international shoots, he fell in love with Thai food and became fanatical about preparing it from scratch. In later years, on Centennial Street, he delighted his grandchildren with his homemade Greek burgers and every year friends looked forward to gifts of his famous curry powder. You could always hear him humming in the kitchen. No particular tune, just humming. “Derek, stop humming!” “Sorry!”… Hmm…hmmm…mmm…mmm…

Unfortunately, Credo, now Credo Entertainment Corporation, did not survive the economic downturn that followed 9/11. It ceased operations in 2002 and, for the first time in decades, Derek became an employee, joining the National Film Board as Executive Producer of the NFB’s Prairie Centre, until the Winnipeg office was merged with Edmonton.

Derek was the founder and long-time president of the Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association, and a board member of the National Screen Institute, the Banff Television Foundation and the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association. From 2011 to his retirement in 2017, he was CEO of the Nunavut Film Development Corporation, where he continued his career-long mission of developing and supporting young filmmakers. Living year-round in Iqaluit, Derek fell in love with the north, its culture and especially its people. He showed that love through dinner parties where strangers became warm friends. He delighted in the ravens that visited his windowsill every morning for their daily snack, and his homemade wine took on a distinct northern flavour, with crowberries incorporated into Derek’s recipe.

In addition to his many film and television awards, Derek was awarded a Manitoba Blizzard award for Outstanding Achievement and Canada’s 125th Anniversary Medal for Significant Contribution to Canadian Culture. He and Joan were jointly presented with the Gimli Film Festival’s Living the Dream Award, again for a lifetime of contributions to the Manitoba industry.

In his retirement, Derek loved spending time with his life partner, Joan, relaxing on the front porch with a morning coffee or in “La Garaga” with a late-afternoon glass of wine, watching the antics of birds and squirrels around their bird feeders. Joan was beside him in his final hours in the hospital, holding his hand and reading texts to him from family and friends.

Derek was predeceased by his mother, Linda Mazur (nee Watkins), father, Stanley Mazur, and sisters, Diane and Darlene Mazur. He is survived by his wife, Joan Scott, daughter, Johanna Mazur, step-daughter, Angela Glesby (Ryan Glesby), sons, Cris LaBossiere and Dylan Mazur (Jen Chisholm), step-son, Eric Scott (Christa Durhack), and grandchildren Riley, Brooklyn, Cole and Chad Glesby, as well as dear friends and family in Manitoba, British Columbia, and Nunavut.

We would like to thank all the wonderful staff of St. Boniface Hospital for their respectful and thoughtful care of Derek. Due to Covid-19, a memorial to celebrate his life will be delayed until later this year. The family of Derek Mazur will be establishing a memorial fund to support filmmakers in Canada’s North. If you would like to support the fund, please email your contact information to derekmazur.memorialfund@gmail.com.
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Ervin Chartrand

Posted at 01:29pm
My first mentor Derek Mazur passed away this week in Winnipeg.
I met Derek when I was working at the Sharing Circle. I had the honour of working alongside him. One, in particular, was on the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company documentary. Probably one of my favourite episodes. I still have the copy he gave me which I watch from time to time.
In 2005, I received funds to produce my first two films. The first film was through the Winnipeg Film Groups 'First Film Fund' for my film titled, '504938C' and the second film was produced through the National Film Boards 'First Stories Fund' for my documentary, titled, 'Patrick Ross.' Derek was the kind of mentor I needed at that time. He was kind with an outstanding work ethic. Derek was a force of nature: smart as a whip, fiercely creative, and a gifted writer who wore many hats. I'm sure the people who worked close to him would say the same. We all adored and respected him. At that time of my life, I had many regrets about life and how I viewed the world. The best gift he ever gave me was his time and a hard dose of truth about myself.
R.I.P old friend, you will be missed.

Alison Preston

Posted at 12:43pm
Years ago Derek invited me to his office at the film board to discuss my writing a screenplay for one of my books. So far it hasn’t happened (ha ha), but I never forgot his interest, enthusiasm, and encouragement.
I also have fond memories of “the cousins “ at both Grosvenor Ave. and Centennial St. Could there be better hosts than Joan and Derek?
Sincere condolences to Joan and family.
RJ

Rene Jamieson

Posted at 10:14am
Derek Mazur was a force to be reckoned with, and his great contributions to the world of film will not be forgotten. I have many happy memories of working on commercial production with Derek and Joan in my days in advertising. My deep condolences to Joan and the family. May you rest in peace, Derek.

Nghia Nguyen

Posted at 06:24pm
My deepest and sincerest condolences to Joan and the family. Derek and Joan gave me my first job in the industry, as I became Credo’s lawyer way back in 1996. Working with and learning at the feet of such Manitoba production icons like Derek, Joan, Michael Scott, Kim, Andrew and Shaunna were some of my fondest memories of the 3.5 years I worked there. The best compliment I could have received was when I was hired and Joan said I reminded her of a young Derek. Probably because I had little hair and made people laugh. Ha. I ended up living have a 3 minute walk from their house (and could almost see their backyard from my balcony). Gosh, I still remember their house and the parties and the conversations like it was yesterday. Goodbye, sir.


Nghia Nguyen
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