Three Women

The world has lost three incredible women this past week.

Anita Roddick, Body Shop founder, made the world a better place thanks to her vision and tenacity. A friend of mine who met her while working at a Body Shop in Toronto says “her sense of humour was exceeded only by her thoughtfulness,” and that he was “deeply affected by the intelligence, consideration and principled character she lived by…a character I have always regarded as an example.” Elizabeth May worked with her as well, and shares some nice reflections on her blog.

Madeleine L’Engle was one of the first authors I ever read, and remains one of my favourite. I took her flagship A Wrinkle In Time with me on a canoe trip to the French River in August 1996 and it got drenched in a rainstorm while we were staying at Five Finger Rapids. I still have the same copy sitting on my bookshelf, wrinkled indeed. A few years later my parents gave me a copy of Glimpses of Grace, a collection of L’Engle’s daily reflections on life and spirituality. Got me through some tough times in high school. James Bow remembers her wonderfully in this post.

Last night, my mom called to let me know that another storyteller and a personal friend of our family, Helen Porter, had died suddenly from a combination of an infection and leukemia. (I don’t mean “storyteller” in the general sense; that’s exactly what she did, professionally.) The first time I remember seeing her was as a child during Toronto’s First Night new year’s celebrations, entertaining kids in Roy Thompson Hall. Later, she agreed to come up to my summer camp and run storytelling workshops for the campers there. The last time I got to see her speak was about a year ago, again in Toronto, when she told true stories from her own life for the Impatient Theatre Company’s Munchausen improv show. Whether she was performing for children or adults, telling a story from ancient times, Shakespeare, or her own life, she was always captivating and moving.

Beyond her own amazing talents, she was also extremely generous and kind to others. At my campaign launch in December 2005, she pulled me aside and gave me such warm and genuine encouragement that I’m sure it contributed to my ability to maintain strength and confidence over the weeks that followed. She leaves a void, and will be missed.

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