Olivia Chow in Waterloo

January 22, 2014 at 10:20 pm 2 comments

olivia_chow_and_book.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoPhoto credit: Toronto Star, online

Last evening my husband and I attended an event put on by Words Worth Books at the Princess Twin Cinemas in Waterloo, Ontario, for Olivia Chow and her memoir, My Journey. The book, published by Harper Collins, just hit shelves this week.

David Worsley, co-owner of WordsWorth Books, welcomed everyone and gave us a hint of upcoming events including the 30th anniversary plans, followed by Catherine Fife’s warm and insightful introduction and how Olivia has  been such a meaningful mentor in her own political journey.

Daiene Vernile, of CTV, conducted the rest of the event similar to a fire-side chat in one of the theatres on such a cold night, but without any fire or fireplace in sight. Although David called this book a powerful political piece of work, so far I have seen only the personal side, but then I have read just the introduction and part of the first chapter. I look forward to reading the entire book.

In the interview, Olivia rose to the challenge of the many questions, both political and personal, for she has not only been a member of a school board, a Toronto city councillor, she is also  MP for Trinity-Spadina as a member of the New Democratic Party. A candid woman who speaks with kindness and integrity.

There’s been speculation whether Olivia will run for mayor of Toronto, and while she’s been on Toronto city council and worked at building programs in the city, she is now an MP where she says that bigger changes are made.  Among other projects, she was involved with breakfast programs for children and said, “How can you learn when you’re hungry.” She’s not there yet in making a decision.

The current mayor’s name came up more than once, but I appreciated how she deflected the question about how he could do things differently. She answered,”That’s not for me  to say.” I appreciated her integrity and said so when she autographed my copy of her book.

Daiene also asked how she had met Jack. Olivia said they had agreed to work together on a fundraising auction. The day they met, working on that auction together, made an impression on both of them. She said  for him, she thinks it was”nanoseconds” and for her a bit longer, but soon they were agreeing to meet and getting to know one another.

When asked by an audience member  if she still attended to her art, especially sculpting, she answered, “Not so much now.” She said it takes time to do that kind of work, although she did sculpt a bust of her late husband, Jack Layton, after his death. That sculpture is mounted on a piece of pink granite in the place where his ashes are buried and where she planted a small garden around the stone. That speaks endless amount of love to me. Love and sensitivity as well as a way, perhaps, of working through grief, for someone who seemed to be her soulmate. She also speaks with love of her family, and especially her grandchildren.

I could write more and truly wish I’d taken notes, but I was so focused on the conversation, the nuances, and Olivia’s grace in answering the questions, even the difficult ones. I will let you read her book, as I am doing.


Entry filed under: authors, blogs, books, community, culture, education, relationships, social justice, storytelling, writing. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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