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MY STORY ~ by Roland Best


Hi, my name is Roland Best, husband of the author, Alana Best, whose blog posts you have been enjoying. I’m a Strategic Human Resources Manager with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction for the Government of British Columbia (Canada). I was recently given the tremendous opportunity at work, to utilize a government wide online platform to tell my story through this blog post, and to share my personal history as a Black Canadian for Black History Month. So I wanted to share this story with family, friends and Alana's blog subscribers here, so that people outside of the BC Government could also access it if they wanted to. Back in late January, when I read the email for this blog post request, I instantly choked up, closed my eyes, pressed my hands tightly together in a praying motion, and then looked up towards the sky. I whispered a heartfelt “thank you” with a deep sense of gratitude to the universe, for making this happen at this time in my life, for giving me this platform to share my story, so I can honour and celebrate my loved ones who have made me who I am, and have helped pave the way for me.

Take a seat in your favourite chair and get comfortable.

FAMILY LOVE I am blessed to have been raised by two loving and amazing parents and the best big sister ever. I have lived my whole life admiring the three of them, looking up to them, and continuously being inspired by them. These three individuals have shaped my life and have made me the person I am today. They have offered me so many deeply impacting life lessons over the years. My Mom, Pops and big sister, Tricia, who I call “Trishy,” have taught me how to respect and carry myself, how to develop patience, mental strength and resilience, how to treat those around me with kindness, compassion and integrity, how to live life with enthusiasm and love, how to look at the positive things in life and to be grateful for them, how to address and tackle the challenges that come up in life, and how to give it my all to try my best to show up each and every day as my best self.


Some days it’s easier to show up in that state than others, despite my focus, intention and moral compass set in that direction. I try to be fair to myself for the times when I don’t reach that level. And as my mom would say, “as long as I give it my best effort, that’s all I can do.” BAJAN ROOTS My parents are both Bajan, born and raised in Barbados. We visited Barbados several times over the years including an extended family trip in 2014 with our partners, Alana and Brian, and my two nephews. The trip back to our roots was a special one as we got to see where mom and dad grew up, where they first met, went to school, worked, etc. It was great to also visit all our wonderful family, some blood, some not, but family, nonetheless.



There are a ton of Aunties, Uncles and cousins there, and for a lot of our earlier trips back to Barbados, the highlight was seeing my Grandma, my dad’s mom. She passed away in 2001. We didn’t know it at the time, but that trip was the last time we would have that opportunity to visit Barbados as a family. Barbados is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with the most authentic and lovely people that you will ever meet. It really is incredible and will always hold a special place in our hearts. My mom, Nadine (née Padmore), was born in Barbados on May 18, 1942. She put a lot of love out there in the world, and in return, she received a lot of love back. Whenever someone met her, there was this magical thing that would always happen. I can’t put my finger on it, or properly describe it, but by being her magnificent self, people felt a real sense of love and respect for my mom. People gravitated to her, always wanting to be near her and take in whatever she was sharing at the time. She was so magnetic.


My Pops, Ed “Eddie” Best, was born in Barbados on November 12, 1940. We share the same first name, Edward, and birthday. The beautiful love, kindness and respect that Pops shares with everyone he meets, is a remarkable gift. I feel so privileged to have experienced it for all these years. He had an impressive presence. He would walk into a room and take it over, in a respectful way, and people would be glued to his every word. It was awesome to watch.

CANADIAN BEGINNING


The Canadian life for my family was made possible when one of my mom’s four older sisters, Nello Padmore, who we call “Aunt Mag,” moved from Barbados to Montreal, QC in 1964. She was the first member of the family to move to Canada and little did she know at the time, just how much of an impact her courageous move would have. My Aunt Mag was a kind, gentle, selfless and loving person. She was a genuine and generous person. My parents dated on and off for about five years in Barbados. During one of the off periods, my mom made a brave but difficult decision, to leave her family and huge network of friends behind in Barbados and make a fresh start and new chapter in life in Canada. This great photo of my mom hugging her mom, was taken from my Mom’s farewell party in Barbados, her big send-off was captured by the local newspaper (Sept 25, 1964).



My Aunt Mag sponsored my mom and helped her land her first job in Canada as a nanny for Rob and Ann Paterson, a family with five kids. At this time, Montreal had a nanny incentive program partnership with Barbados. My Aunt Mag’s generosity created a ripple effect that helped my family establish a future in Canada.


My mom soon became very close, like family, with the Patersons. This is typical when people meet my mom. She was easy to love, and people wanted to be around her as much as possible. My mom built a tight bond with her new Canadian family, one that lasted during her time working with them, and throughout her life. Mom was enjoying her new life, which included a lot of old friends from Barbados who had immigrated to Montreal. However, a few years after she arrived in Canada, she returned to Barbados to attend her mom’s funeral in 1967. During this visit, my dad came to his senses, and realized he could not live without my mom in his life. Eddie Best was very popular in Barbados, which had played a small part in my mom’s decision to leave the island. Despite his full social life, Pops decided that nothing was more important than being with his true love. In 1968, Pops left his mom, family and friends behind to join my mom in Montreal.

For the rest of his life, Pops would often joke about how he thought he would convince my mom to move back to Barbados. But mom, being one of the strongest women I have even known, was not having any of that. She was clear, any moves back to Barbados would be a solo mission for my dad.


The Patersons fell in love with my dad’s animated, larger than life presence which, often had them in stitches when he shared one of his stories. On August 17, 1968, the Patersons expressed their kindness and love for my parents by paying for their wedding, and hosting the reception at their beautiful home.


The Paterson’s generosity persisted. Mr. Paterson was a successful senior executive for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). He helped both my parents land jobs at RBC, and many years later my sister and I would also work for RBC on and off for a short time. Over the years, my family has spoken often about Rob and Ann Paterson and their kids. My sister and I got to meet them a few times growing up. I am a strong believer in letting people know just how much you appreciate them. In May of 2018, I wrote a long email, thanking the Patersons for everything they did for my parents, my sister and me. The genuine kindness and love that they gave my parents was rare and precious. The ramifications of which shaped the lives of my entire family.


Ann, 87 at the time, gracefully replied, “You give us too much credit—we might have opened a few doors, but your intelligent, hard-working and delightful parents made your life in Canada happen—they are both so special and we love them.” Ann also informed me that unfortunately, Rob passed away just a week earlier. It was an important reminder: tell those who you respect and are grateful for, just how much they mean to you, before it’s too late.


After working at RBC for a few years, my mom took on the much more difficult job of raising little kids at home. For our family, mom had always been an extraordinary source of power, that gave all of us the strength and belief in ourselves that we could achieve anything that we put our mind to. She was the rock, that the whole family could always lean on and count on to support us and help us in any way possible. My mom did it all and was the glue that kept the family together and so close over the years. Another one of her great gifts was her ability to be so kind and full of love, but at the same time, so firm and tough. It was an impressive balance. My dad, on the other hand, took the great career opportunity and ran with it. He started climbing the corporate ladder at RBC quickly. He was a remarkable people person, smart, hardworking and a very fast learner. Pops was also a gifted public speaker. He had the sharpest mind and was hands-down the most brilliant person I have ever known. This skill allowed him to intelligently participate in any type of conversation, no matter what the topic. I was always impressed by that. Growing up, he skipped numerous grades at school. He really did shine for most of his life. By the end of my dad’s RBC career, he was a successful senior executive. The bank’s culture was such that he had to accept geographical transfers to land bigger positions. He started in Montreal in the late 1960s. My sister Tricia was born there on December 1, 1969. Then the family moved to Vancouver in the early 1970s, where my parents lost a child. Natalie passed away from an aneurysm after her first day of life, it was devastating. My sister and I just recently found out that Natalie’s birthday was the same as my son, Kymani’s, birthday, December 13. That fact blew us away.



After losing Natalie, my parents were told by the doctor to continue trying for another child. I was born on November 12, 1974 in New Westminster, B.C. As mentioned earlier, the same birthday as my Pops. We moved to Winnipeg (Peg City) in 1979. This move to Winnipeg was supposed to be a quick few years and then off to a new RBC opportunity. But we ended up loving the people in Winnipeg so much, that my dad turned down multiple transfer offers. He selflessly decided it was best for his family if we stayed in Winnipeg for our formative grade school years. We stayed in Winnipeg for 13 years. Peg City will always be in my blood.




Just before my high school graduation, a surprising opportunity came in for my dad back in Montreal. We told Pops that he did enough for our family, by keeping us in Winnipeg for so long, and he should definitely accept the offer. The family moved back to Montreal from 1992 – 1998, during which time my sister moved to British Columbia in 1993, completing her Master’s degree before moving to Victoria in 1999. Another great RBC job opportunity was offered to my dad, and my parents and I moved to Oakville, Ontario, close to Toronto, from 1998 – 2007 for me, and until 2008 for my folks. It was in Toronto that my Dad retired from RBC, after working there for over 30 years.

We have been blessed to have made a lot of remarkable friends for life, some of them feel more like family, in each of the cities that we have lived in across Canada, and that is a true testament to the type of people that my parents are, and to how they raised my sister and I.


~Part 2~


COAST IS CLEAR

The four of us, my parents, sister and I have been exceptionally close throughout our lives. My sister has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. Just like my parents, my big sister, Trishy, also has that special quality about her. People love her. Whenever people find out she is my sister, they will always tell me how AMAZING she is, and how much they love her. It is fitting that her initials are T.H.E. Best (Tricia Heather Eddine Best), because she truly is. This was my dad and his clever ways at the hospital when my sister was born. The name Eddine was made up on the spot, a combination of my parents’ names. Good ol’ Pops.


In 2006, I came to Victoria to visit my sister and her family, and instantly fell in love with the city, the lifestyle and energy. Following the 2006 trip to Victoria, I went back to Toronto, sold our house, quit my job and moved out to Victoria in the summer of 2007. That move was the easiest decision and turned out to also be one of the best decisions, that I have ever made. With both my sister and I living in the same city, it was only a matter of time before my parents would follow and also move out to Victoria. By 2008, the Best family was back together again, and it was awesome. We have loved our lives in beautiful Victoria as a family and have built so many precious memories and moments over the years.


It was also in 2008, when I began working for the BC Government. I joined the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (SDPR), it has gone through a few different name changes over the years. I still work in SDPR, and I have really enjoyed the various roles and experiences that I have had in this great ministry over the years. RETURNING TO AFRICA In 2012, as I began a new chapter in my life, following a divorce, I found myself doing a lot of soul searching. Part of that process included a special trip to Ghana, Africa. As a Black person in North America, going to Africa is huge, and really means a lot. During this journey back to the Motherland, as it was known in the hip-hop world, I volunteered at two different orphanages and learned more about myself, and my history, than I ever could have imagined.


Now this is something that I imagine a lot of people know, but I honestly didn’t have a clue about. My parents never discussed our family history or heritage. I did not know anything about my ancestors before their time in Barbados. I did not know how our family got to Barbados. I think this is probably common amongst Caribbean parents, to not discuss this past.


While in Ghana, one of my day excursions was to visit a slave castle called Cape Coast Slave Castle. There were an estimated 10 – 40 million enslaved Africans shipped from that location. The Obamas also visited this castle, because of their family history and connection to it. This was a heavy and powerful experience for me. During the tour, every time the guide took us to one of the dungeons for the males, and the ones for the females, he would talk about where the slaves were sent to. He went through a lengthy list of countries often starting with Barbados.



I didn’t realize slaves from that specific castle were sent to Barbados, and that realization, during a time of soul searching hit me hard. My heart ached and my stomach turned, in a feeling like nothing I have ever had before. I told the guide that my family is from Barbados. He stuck out his hand to shake mine, looked me in the eyes and said…“Welcome home brother!” My soul leaped with an incredible feeling of belonging.



Years later, I did an AncestryDNA test, and Ghana was a major part of where my family and I are from. For those that would like to hear more about my soul-sparking Ghana journey, you can read a piece that I did for my ministry after I returned, by clicking Roland's soul-sparking Ghana journey.


BUILDING A FAMILY



Tricia and I feel fortunate to have found incredible partners. My partner, Alana, is amazing on many levels. We were married on June 18, 2016. It was one of the best and happiest days ever, surrounded by so many wonderful family and friends and a ton of greatly appreciated love. I am constantly inspired by Alana to be a better person, to set bigger goals and to reach further, to love your family and friends deep, and to keep living life to the fullest. She inspires a lot of people around here, especially the great women in her life. I didn’t know that life could be this fulfilling and exciting. Meeting Alana is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, and our family and wonderful life together is something that I’m so appreciative of. When I married Alana, who is from Saskatchewan (SK), I was also extremely blessed to have won the lottery for the best in-laws a person could ask for. My incredible mother- and father-in-law, Marg and Aurèle Morrissette, have been so loving, supportive and encouraging from the first day that I’ve met them, and that continues to grow stronger as time passes. And my brothers- and sisters-in-law, are also so amazing and full of tons of love and kindness. Spending special time with my awesome SK fam, including our sweet nephews and nieces, is something that I cherish very much, and absolutely love.


Alana and I have three fun-loving fantastic kids that we adore, Josephine (13), Kymani (3) and Sydahlia (1). Our three kids mean the world to us. Watching them grow and figure out new and exciting things for the first time is the best feeling. They bring me so much joy and I have an unimaginable amount of unconditional love for them, more than I ever knew was even possible. When I first met Jo, she was five years old. I was so lucky to be able to build a relationship with her as her bonus dad, and we are so close. She was my first child that gave me the opportunity to be a dad. Her beautiful spirit, confidence, kindness and remarkable level of self-awareness, are so impressive. We constantly have adults comment about how mature and super cool she is. That’s our girl Jo. For Kymani and Sydahlia, we did a home-birth for both of them, and I was able to receive them and place them on their mom right away. Alana was beyond amazing, and my already high level of appreciation for her increased when I witnessed everything that she went through. Those two experiences of when our two little ones came into this world, are easily the most incredible moments of my life. Kymani is, without a doubt, the sweetest little boy I have ever seen, full of so much love, smiles and laughter. The love and compassion that he has for his little sister, and how much he protects and helps her, is out of this world. Sydahlia has that impressive fire and independence in her, that you know there’s going to be no stopping her from making her significant mark on this world. She just started walking a few days ago, and her mom and I are thrilled to see her take her first steps. I absolutely love seeing our three kids do something new for the first time, it warms my heart. We are so grateful and proud of our three beautiful kids, and we’re excited to watch them learn and continue to grow into amazing individuals. I always knew that I wanted to be a dad, but this journey and father role has greatly exceeded any expectations that I ever dreamed up. My sister’s partner Brian is one of the nicest humans you will ever meet, with the gentlest soul you will ever come across. He has the ability to bring calmness and integrity to any situation. Trishy and Brian have two awesome boys who we love so much, Jamal (17) and Jalen (10). We are so proud of the boys, they are such caring and loving nephews, and are the best cool cousins to our three kids.



It really means a lot for Trishy and I to be able to raise our families together in the same city, and for our kids to have had their grandparents play such a huge part in their day-to-day lives. Granny and Grandad, my parents, were actively involved with their grandkids, and loved every moment they had with their precious little ones over the years.



~Part 3~


2018 SADNESS In 2018, Alana, our two kids at the time, Kymani, Josephine and I travelled the world for the year. I was on a deferred salary leave, and Alana was on maternity leave. It was an epic adventure of a lifetime. And by the end of it all, we visited 21 countries, 71 cities and flew in 56 planes. My mom was our biggest fan during our travelling. She would have our complex itinerary in her purse and look at it each day, so that she could tell any of her friends who asked, exactly where we were. We would do video calls with Mom each week, and show her different parts of the world, the AirBnB place we were staying at, and most importantly, she could see her sweet new grandson grow and learn new things. Kymani was only five weeks when we left Victoria and hopped on our first plane to Beijing in late January.


In August of that year, we received news from my sister, that Pops had a stroke and was in the hospital. We couldn’t believe the devasting news. My dad had Parkinson’s and some early signs of Dementia before the stroke. Although my Dad was changing both physically and mentally before the stroke happened, he was still able to walk with no problem and carry intelligent conversations. The stroke took away the majority of his memory, and eventually his ability to walk.



We were in Paris when we received the news. I told my sister I could fly back to help out her and mom, who were visiting Pops every day in the hospital. My sister told me not to worry about returning, since my dad was in great hands and receiving excellent care at the hospital. A few weeks later, we received news that Pops would have to go into a long-term care facility, and that mom would no longer be able to care for him. Hearing that news really got to me, I’ll never forget reading that message on my phone while on a subway in Paris, with Alana and her family on our way to our day excursion. I burst into tears and told Alana that I just needed to return to the AirBnB. I left the group and made my way back.


A week later on Sunday, October 7, while in Bordeaux, France, we found out my mom was now sick and was taken to the hospital. This news was another huge blow. My mom had caught bacterial meningitis, a very serious illness, but we were optimistic as the doctors caught it early. With both parents now in the hospital, I knew I had to return home to help my sister and to be there for my family. From France, I returned home by myself, planning to rejoin Alana and the two kids later on in our journey, they were on their way to Spain for a month.



My sister picked me up from the airport on a late Friday night. Despite the 20 hours of flights and airports I had just come from, we headed straight to the hospital. It was surreal, having two of my main pillars of strength throughout my life, now laying helplessly in hospital beds. My parents have always been healthy and energetic so to see the state that both of them were in, was tough. Visiting one on the fourth floor, and then the other one on the fifth floor. But I was so happy to see them after months of travel. Neither of them knew that I was coming, so they were both excited with my surprise visit. We talked for a bit then called it a night so they could both get some rest. We told them that we would be back bright and early the next day. The next morning, my sister and I went to the hospital to spend the whole day with them. My dad was going on about how amazing the hospital food was, and my mom cringed saying, “I don’t know how your dad can eat this crap!” That’s the difference between an amazing cook, my mom, compared to someone who loves to eat whatever is put in front of him, my Pops.


My dad was unaware that mom was in the hospital, we didn’t want to upset him and add any more stress to his plate. Throughout the day, my sister and I got to share so many beautiful stories, laughter and precious moments with our parents, as we bounced back and forth between the fourth and fifth floors. Seeing my Pops in person, I realized the extent of the changes. Even though he remembered our names, he couldn’t recall the name of the sport he was watching on the TV. He has been a huge sports fan his whole life, that’s where I got my love for sports from. It was hard to hold the tears back, knowing how much of his memory was gone.


My mom’s mind was still sharp, but she was in a lot of physical pain. It was heartbreaking seeing her like that. This woman had more energy than anyone I have ever known, she was constantly on the go making things happen, and helping out her family and friends nonstop. So, for her to be in a hospital bed barely able to move, was soul crushing. She was still her hilarious and loving self, we had such massive laughs together, some heart to heart talks, and everything in between. She felt bad that she made me leave my family in order to fly back and see her. I told her “please don’t worry about that, there’s no other place that I would rather be, then right by your side.” I also told her the big news that Alana and I were going to start trying for another baby, and her reply was “you two are crazy, haha,” followed by a grin and some more laughter.


We shared a very special conversation, that was such classic Best (mom). When it was time for us to eat lunch with mom in her room, my sister handed me a roti, which my very thoughtful brother-in-law, Brian, bought for me. Before walking into the hallway to use the microwave, my mom felt that it was important to remind me to make sure to put a damp paper towel on the roti, our favourite food, so that it won't dry out. I nodded in her direction, but in my head I remember thinking that that was the least important thing to worry about at that time. When I returned into the room, the first thing my mom asked me was "so, did you put a damp paper towel on the roti like I told you?". I jokingly replied "no mom, I didn't put a damp paper towel on it, I've got other things to worry about right now". She then began lightly cussing me out, talking about "cuttin' my backside", I then replied “shoot, isn’t it time for your nap yet”. We all laughed so hard after her beautifully delivered curse words that were straight Bajan style. At the time, I didn’t realize just how much that conversation would mean to me in the future. I replay it with a smile on my face often. That evening, when we said our goodbyes to Pops and then mom, my mom asked, “Rogie (my family nickname), can you spend the night with me?” I nodded even before the question was finished. “Of course, I can mom, I would love to,” I replied.


I got comfortable on the couch in my mom’s hospital room and we stayed up for a bit talking. We are both night owls, I get it from her. If this were a typical night, we would have stayed up until 3 or 4 a.m., but her illness tired her out earlier. We told each other that we loved one another and said our goodnights.


At 4 a.m., I woke up to my mom having a difficult time breathing. I ran out of the room and grabbed the nurses, they came in, and paged a doctor, which later escalated quickly. I was by my mom’s bedside on the left, holding her hand, trying to talk her into slowing down her breathing, because she was panicking. And then, my mom looked into my eyes, then looked over my right shoulder, as if looking at someone or something behind me. And at that moment, she then said, “Jesus, I’m ready.” When her powerful last words left her mouth, she peacefully closed her eyes, then her mouth, and took her last breath. It was clear that she was ready, but I definitely wasn't, none of us were.


The doctor announced a code blue and a full team of around ten people rushed into my mom's hospital room and started working on her.


I called my sister as the hospital was calling out code blue for my mom’s room. Tricia rushed to the hospital, living about 15 minutes away. She made it in time because as soon as Tricia arrived at the hospital, the main doctor working on mom came to tell us the sad news. It was official, they couldn’t save mom, she was gone. My sister and I were absolutely devastated, in complete shock, and couldn't stop the heavy flow of tears. The two of us were able to spend a few hours alone with my mom in her room, she looked so beautiful and peaceful. We then decided to inform my dad and brought him to my mom’s room to say his goodbyes properly, we're so happy that we did that.


My mom passed away the morning of October 14, 2018, just seven days after arriving at the hospital. But I am so incredibly grateful that I arrived back home just over 30 hours before, and that I was there with mom at the end, to hear her last words, and to have her beautiful hand held in mine, when she left us. Losing mom is by far the biggest shock and tragedy that my family has ever gone through, and we miss her so much, each and every day. Calling Alana, who was solo parenting in Europe, to tell her the sad news was painful. She was shocked, like the rest of us, and inconsolable that she didn’t get to see or hear mom before she passed. My mom and Alana were extremely close and both loved and respected one another deeply.



On November 9, we had my mom’s Celebration of Life. Giving enough time for Alana and the kids to return from Spain and for mom's many friends and family to come from all across Canada. My sister and I did a heartfelt eulogy together, giving praise to our special hero. Once again, we leaned heavily on each other for physical and mental support.


My best friend is a talented opera singer. Through a heavy heart and lots of tears, he sang one of my mom’s favourite songs beautifully. The service was held at the church my mom attended. She made a lot of special friends there that she would hang out with, playing mahjong or bridge for their weekly games. There were so many beautiful stories, heavy tears, deep laughter and precious memories of my mom being shared. You could feel how much people adored and cherished her.


My mom showed such tremendous courage and strength in how she lived her life. Moving away from Barbados by herself in the 1960’s, leaving everything behind to start her new life in Canada. She beat breast cancer not once, but twice. She really was one of the greatest humans to ever walk the earth.


My Pops, who was in a wheelchair during the service, was greeting all of his old friends, and surprisingly remembering some by name. He was thanking people for coming and sharing stories of his precious wife, Nads. He was his old charismatic self, full of smiles and kindness for those around him.


For a lot of our old friends that had not seen my dad for a while, it was really nice that they got a glimpse into the old Eddie Best. It was a blessing that my Pops was shining as he honoured his wife of over 50 years, one last time. I remember when I visited Pops the next day in his long-term care facility, he held my hand tightly and with a massive smile, looked me in the eyes and said “Ponch (my nickname from my Pops), I did good hey, it felt like I was really on yesterday,” I replied, “Holy Pops, you were absolutely amazing man, wow!”

My Pops is currently still in a care home, loved and cherished by the staff there. We have numerous staff at the home tell us "your dad is the nicest person that we have ever had here." Without any filters, a person's true colours, their core, really does shine through. Although my Pops has never actually worn a cape (even though I’m pretty sure he could totally rock one, because he’s the coolest cat ever), and can’t fly as high and as fast as he used to, he will still always be my superhero. I will forever look up to my Pops and admire him with great appreciation for all that he’s done for our family.


Trishy and I have been there for each other throughout our lives, every step of the way. And as we supported one another with everything that happened with mom, and all that is going on with Pops, our bond and friendship has gotten even tighter. I’m not sure how I would have made it through any of it, without my sister’s love and help along the way.



~Part 4~


MY AUNT MAG Fast forward to January 16, 2021, just a few days after receiving the great news from PSA, that I would have this opportunity to tell my story for Black History Month. Early that Saturday morning I received a call from my sister, this time it was the sad news about my Aunt Mag. She passed away peacefully in her sleep. Aunt Mag had been fighting cancer for years, and it eventually took over her whole body. My poor aunt has been through a lot, including so many issues with her health, for a long time. She was so strong, mentally and physically, and kept fighting the pain.


My Aunt Mag changed the course of many lives by her willingness to support and sponsor various members of her family and help them in their quest to fulfill their dreams in Canada. Aunt Mag and her husband, Uncle Chester, never had any children, but my sister, and my two close cousins, David and Julianne, were like her four kids. We have always been close, but we have bonded even more this past year as we connected often to talk about how best to support Aunt Mag. Her passing leaves all of her family with a deep feeling of loss and sorrow. My mom and Aunt Mag were very close growing up in Barbados, which continued when they shifted their lives and dreams to Canada. It warms my heart to know that they are back together again.


It feels like the universe really has given me this opportunity at the perfect time in my life, so that I could celebrate the lives of those who I have loved so deeply, and who have helped me so much throughout my life.


SPREAD THE LOVE


Life really is short, and things could change at any moment. For some of those moments you have a sense that a change is coming, and for other moments, it can be so unexpected. For those that are still reading this, I encourage you to tell the ones that you love and respect, just how much they mean to you, and tell them often. My family hugged every time we saw each other and every time we said goodbye, and my sister and I still end our visits and texts with a ‘Love you’.


It’s because of my parents and my sister, and the way that they raised me, that I try to use my voice as much as possible when speaking out and against racial injustice. Some of you might have read my Black Lives Matter blog post from last year or watched the Face to Face with Racism webinar that I was on the panel for with three other courageous BIPOC.

I have had fortunate opportunities to use various platforms to share my experiences as a Black person in Canada, and the racism that I have dealt with over the years. I know that I need to do way more in this fight against racism and racial inequality. I know that words, although they can be powerful, are not nearly enough. Action needs to also be taken.


To that end, myself and Kerry Cavers from the Ministry of Citizens’ Services, have decided to create a BIPOC group for the entire BC Government. This will provide a platform and safe space for those who work for the BC Public Service and identify as BIPOC to share their stories and experiences, to lift some of the pain and suffering off of their soul and heart, and to work together to make changes for a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace. I am very proud and excited to announce that we have officially launched the BIPOC group and will be meeting for the first time later in April. I encourage those within the BC Government that may be interested in joining or finding out more information about the BC Public Service BIPOC group to email Kerry at: Kerry.Cavers@gov.bc.ca. I would just like to say, thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to read my story. I truly appreciate it. To Mom, Pops, Trishy, Aunt Mag, Alana, our wonderful three kids, Josephine, Kymani and Sydahlia, my Victoria family, my Saskatchewan family, the rest of my wonderful family, and to all of my amazing friends, I love you all so very much, and I thank each of you, with immense gratitude, for everything that you have done for me throughout my life, and for the part that you have played in making me the person that I am today. Thank you.



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