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VOL. 78 PART 4 JULY 2020
that they heard not only from people who would be kind and encouraging,
but also from angry men and women who had suffered as children and would
challenge Ted and his team at the most basic level of their humanity.
In 2005, while heading the residential schools project from an office in
Regina, Ted undertook for the B.C. government a review of the province’s
child protection system. He was struck by the gross over-representation of
Aboriginal children in care and spoke out about the legacy of colonialism.
Our province’s Office of the Representative for Children and Youth is a
direct result of Ted’s recommendations.
He then was a natural choice to chair a public inquiry in Manitoba into
that province’s child welfare system after the murder of a five-year-old Aboriginal
girl. Ted was 84 years old when he took the assignment. He presided
over 92 days of televised public hearings in Winnipeg. Ted’s commission
counsel said that Ted “presented an unwavering face of justice and humanity
not only to the people who stood before him but to all those in the community
who followed the proceedings, looking for answers.” Ted provided
those answers and made recommendations aimed at improving the lives of
Aboriginal children and their families.
When asked once where had he come by his commitment to justice for
Aboriginal Canadians, he told of a sentencing hearing many years ago when
he was a judge in Saskatoon. Ted had asked the young Aboriginal man before
him whether he had anything to say for himself, and the young man let him
have it, demanding to know by what right Ted felt he could pass judgment
on someone like him, without having any idea of what his life was like. Ted
listened and learned something. As a trial judge he knew he was limited in
what he could do to breach the divide between that man’s world and his own,
so for the time being he handed the task to Helen, and she ran with it. Eventually,
he found his own opportunities to make a difference.
No story about Ted is complete without Helen. She had been a popular
city councillor in Saskatoon and quickly established herself in Victoria,
working first in the Ombudsman’s office, then at the Human Rights Council.
By 1990 she made her first run for Victoria City Council and served for
18 years, with Ted running each of her election campaigns. At the same
time, she was deeply involved in civic leadership and volunteering, for
which she was awarded the Order of Canada.
Ted, too, had always served his community. He remained particularly
committed to the health care sector, chairing hospital boards and associations
in Saskatchewan and B.C.
After the move to Victoria, Ted and Helen bought a cottage at Shawnigan
Lake that became the focus of their family life and the setting for many
summer gatherings with friends, colleagues and Saskatchewan relatives.