Remembering Heather Stecher

Heather is an advocate I will not forget. I say is because, although she left this earth January 3, 2021, I see her efforts at the Co-op in our efforts to improving accessibility, in our snow removal contracts, and in the new four way stop signs at the corner. Heather’s life is rich with life-long advocacy on behalf of torture victims, housing and food security issues, poverty, women, arts, and transportation – especially here in Ottawa.

Earlier today, about 30 of Heather’s friends, neighbours and colleagues gathered on Zoom to honour her efforts and share her impact on our lives. 

Organized and very ably shepherded by Amanda Lowe, we began and ended with song-prayers by Michelle Penney. We heard how, after moving to Laurier Manor as a result of a stroke, Heather successfully battled COVID before finally succumbing to other health issues.

People spoke of Heather as advocate, motivator, Springsteen fan, and autograph hound. She was ‘always at City Hall’. Three City Councillors participating in the virtual celebration spoke to the impact of facing Heather who ‘was always in the front row’. She spoke for those ‘who fell between the cracks and were too shy to speak for themselves’. She gave those who saw Heather in action a direct understanding and awareness of what it feels like not to be heard. She insisted everyone be treated with dignity. 

The debilitating effects of Turner’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disease, kept Heather from getting a driver’s license but they did not stop her from participating in a variety of community organizations and political events until the body finally gave out. Pressing decision makers for results, she would remind them, “I don’t have 10 years!”

Fatima, a Co-op member asked everyone to ‘gardez c’est moment; gardez c’est l’espoir’  – keep this moment; keep this hope.

For a brief time many years ago, Heather blogged. The entries illuminate Heather’s spirit and drive.

So glad I shared the journey with you for a while.


About mielniczuk

Community, systems, design, collaboration, change, evidence, Intelligent Accountability(c)
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1 Response to Remembering Heather Stecher

  1. mielniczuk says:

    Captured the chat from Heather’s Zoom memorial.
    11:07:07 From Chris Osler : yes, sad day to remember an amazing advicate
    11:07:28 From blainegcameron : She was
    11:14:34 From blainegcameron : That was beautiful Michele
    11:14:56 From Zoom user : beautiful michelle
    11:15:38 From Brent Manuel : beautiful
    11:23:34 From Brent Manuel : Heather was great.
    11:24:13 From Zoom user : she will be miss so much she will always be in my heart
    11:24:30 From Taylor Hyatt : what a lovely tribute, Amanda!
    11:24:44 From Nikkie-Ann Lowe : ♡
    11:25:10 From Brent Manuel : ❤️❤️
    11:26:05 From Fatima Ing. : Well said Amanda:) thanks
    11:38:53 From Fatima Ing. : Heather is at right place and let live for her…
    11:40:44 From Joel Harden : happy to say a few words
    11:40:56 From Michele Penney : True dat Kathleen!
    11:42:15 From Tim Tierney : If ok, I would love to say a couple words.
    11:44:31 From dianeireland : Thank you all. I know so much more about Heather through your voices and hearts.
    11:46:21 From Mélanie (her, she, elle) : “She’s gonna go pass her time” YES!!!!
    11:46:41 From Brent Manuel : Heather was amazing.
    11:47:13 From Chris Osler : love to add some words
    11:56:13 From Mathieu Fleury : Heather touched all of us. So many of the testimonials reflect similar interactions I have had with Heather. She was not scared to speak up, share system failures and push for change. Thanks Amanda for organising this important space to hear from one and other about how Heather impact each one of us and led in our community.
    11:59:47 From Valerie Stam : I think Heather would love we continued advocating during at her memorial – thank you for that Trevor.
    12:04:56 From Trevor Haché : No need to apologize for little ones
    12:10:32 From Andrea Balfour : Thank you Mary Jane and Taylor
    12:11:15 From Andrea Balfour : It is nice to hear the interesting connections. Heather was a marvelous woman!
    12:12:59 From Zoom user : thank you Amanda for organizing this much appreciate
    12:13:23 From Brent Manuel : thank you Amanda
    12:13:46 From Andrea Balfour : Yes. The snow! Happy she put her foot down on that one. I feared her falling. God bless her. I too may need a walker in the future. One never knows what they may face in life. Thanks everyone!!
    12:15:13 From Tim Tierney : Thank you Amanda for putting this together.
    12:17:00 From Andrea Balfour : C’est vrai!
    12:17:34 From Zoom user : c’est vrais
    12:20:03 From Trevor Haché : Thank you, Fatima, that was a very lovely tribute
    12:20:15 From Nikkie-Ann Lowe : ❤
    12:20:22 From Joel Harden : thanks again for this space, rest in n power heather. must go
    12:20:22 From Blaine Cameron : Very nice Fatima
    12:20:27 From Brent Manuel : ❤️
    12:20:37 From Mathieu Fleury : Une très belle réflexion Fatima, merci.
    12:21:10 From Andrea Balfour : Thanks for coming
    12:21:28 From Mélanie (her, she, elle) : Merci Fatima, t’as tellement raison, pleins de beaux souvenirs d’elle partout en ville!
    12:30:02 From Amanda Lowe W. (she/they) :
    12:31:27 From Mélanie (her, she, elle) : The volume is very low for me, I’m struggling to hear Michele, anyone else?
    12:34:13 From Amanda Lowe W. (she/they) : Thank you all for being here. Sending you all love and comfort. May you honour Heather in your daily life through your actions, your words, your work and your love!
    12:35:56 From Blaine Cameron : What an uplifting memorial, if people would like to join Ottawa ACORN, we’re a non profit direct action group working of behalf of low to moderate income people, just contact us at the following – 404 McArthur Ave. (Heartwood House) Ottawa, ON K1K 1G8
    Phone: 613-746-5999

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