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Tribute to Senator Keating

Honourable senators, I hold tobacco today to thank the Creator for lending me Senator Keating.

Colleagues, I’m honoured to pay tribute to Senator Keating. Even though our budding friendship was shortened by her untimely passing, Senator Keating left an indelible mark on me. She was gentle, humble and passionate. She was a warrior. Truth and honesty were her touchstones.

Senator Keating was and remains an ally. She will always be with me now — in spirit and as a mentor.

As an ally, she never hesitated to put her words into action to address the wrongs she perceived. In the Senate, it was not enough for her to simply speak against the systemic institutional racism that she saw; she acted on it. While it might have intimidated many, she immediately saw the path forward to start dismantling this pervasive issue that exists everywhere, including within our own institution.

She was a bridge between the different worldviews. She was an ally and advocate for many before she came to the Senate: women, the marginalized and the powerless. She brought these skills, expertise and history to the Senate to teach us.

Senator Keating always made time to listen to — or to read — the issues I brought to her attention and was concerned about. She didn’t take charge of the issues but respected the boundaries that came with the request for help. She didn’t see herself as a saviour, but as a supporter. She was also aware that these were long-term commitments, and she was prepared to invest the time and energy required. She gave back more than she took away.

One of the teachings from my elder says:

From the moment we are born, life is about detachment. The first is when we leave our mother’s womb to be born in this world. The second is when we finish suckling from our mother’s breast. The last is when we leave this earth world to go to the spirit world. All along this journey we meet people and we will all have our varied experiences of detachment.

The elder continued, “When I am gone, just reach out and I will be beside you, right at the end of your fingertips.”

Today, when I miss people who have meant so much to me, I reach out and know that their spirit, love and support is right there with me.

I sorely miss our dear senator. The impact that she made has left me in a better place, that’s for sure. Thank you, Senator Keating. I will carry you with me for the rest of my time in the Senate and thereafter. Thank you.

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