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The Late Honourable Josée Forest-Niesing

Excerpt from Debates of the Senate (Hansard)


The Late Honourable Josée Forest-Niesing

Hon. Marty Deacon: Honourable senators, I wish to join today in celebrating the life of the Honourable Senator Forest-Niesing by sharing three memories I will forever be grateful for.

When I first had a chance to sit and talk to her shortly after her appointment — I knew the senator was from Sudbury — I sat and talked to her about Laurentian University, some work that I enjoyed there and my love for community. I assumed she flew to Ottawa each week. After all, it is quite a drive from Sudbury, especially in the winter months. When I asked her about this, she looked at me straight as day and said:

Absolutely no flights for me. I love my drive. I live for the drive. It is five to six hours of me and the road, just me and the road. I love my music, my podcasts, time to think, the scenery —

— The rock, clearly —

— It brings me great calm and peace.

I admired her appreciation for something so simple and somewhat arduous.

As time progressed and the future of Laurentian University became dire, we spoke again. During this time I was contacted directly by Laurentian faculty and students, and I knew the next step was to ask the senator for some direction on how to best support these devastated students, graduates and faculty.

In retrospect, that was one of my favourite moments and times with Josée. The passion with which she spoke about this institution, including her family history, betrayed a sense of almost personal responsibility that this must succeed.

Finally, there is one more interaction I continue to be grateful for. Les Jeux de la Francophonie are like an Olympic Games or Paralympic Games for francophone countries held every four years with 54 countries participating.

In Canada, we weren’t sure we were representing francophone Canadians in the most inclusive and right way. Immediately, I reached out to the senator to seek advice on how we could make this experience, this opportunity for francophone countries and Canadians, a little bit better. She was most helpful and insightful and helped us steer our thinking and actions, and for that Canada is so grateful.

Colleagues, as we have heard, Josée enjoyed and accomplished so much with us in such a short time. But it was in her day-to-day — sometimes even our routine — work that we all do that she showed a drive and passion for that I hope to carry with me in all of my endeavours. We will miss her deeply. Thank you. Meegwetch.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would ask that you rise and join me in observing a moment of silence for our former colleague, Senator Josée Forest-Niesing.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)

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