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The Late Stephanie Leigh Prysnuk

Excerpt from Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

The Late Stephanie Leigh Prysnuk

Hon. Marty Deacon: Honourable senators, one of the greatest honours of our job is paying tribute to individuals who have contributed deeply to our country, globally and to the communities we represent. Today it is a privilege to celebrate the life of Stephanie Leigh Prysnuk, an incredible young woman who was a shining light for so many in her Waterloo community.

In her 32 years of life, Stephanie proved time and again that there was no obstacle she couldn’t overcome. Born with a congenital heart disease and several other conditions, Stephanie was only able to go home after several procedures, and even then, she required specialized equipment and care. She had a childhood of trips to and from the hospital and a loving family, and her father Wayne, a special dad and champion, passed away when she was only 8 years old.

Despite these challenges, Stephanie worked hard to live life to the fullest with a stoic ability to accept the challenges life threw her way and just get on with it to try new things. Her courage, resilience, honesty, feistiness and smile were contagious.

Stephanie found a great deal of strength through her participation at Knox Waterloo Presbyterian Church. Through this church, Stephanie participated in many activities, including a mission trip where she took many wonderful photographs. She also made sure to give back, including planning a fundraising event for the Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance.

Last summer, Stephanie was able to fulfill a lifelong dream and move into her own place in the neighbourhood she grew up in. Her sister Beth lived in the apartment above her, where she could provide support. They spent much time together. Beth was a great source of support, love and friendship for Stephanie, and they both loved their sister time. Stephanie loved her family, which six years ago ballooned from 3 to 31 when her mother, Barb, married Fred, and they became a part of his clan.

Sadly, colleagues, Stephanie passed away last month, having touched the lives of so many in her short time with us — so many, in fact, that Knox Church was barely able to contain the 400 who came to pay tribute to her at a celebration of life, along with her family, Dream Team, Fab Five, Gourmet 2.0 and many, many friends.

Even in death, she found a way to make the world a better place, with her friends carrying on work she left unfinished to fundraise for others with heart disease. They were able to raise $12,000 in her honour two short weeks ago.

Stephanie defined grace for all who knew her, and she leaves a legacy that will truly stand the test of time. Her community — a very large community — was built on her love, caring and courage every step of the way, every day. The world is lesser with her passing, but she leaves it in better shape than she found it, and for that we all owe her a great debt of gratitude. Her light will shine forever. Thank you, meegwetch.

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