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.