A let­ter to Flora Mac­Don­ald’s home­town

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL -

I am deeply sad­dened to hear of Flora Mac­Don­ald’s pass­ing.

Canada re­mem­bers her as a hu­man­i­tar­ian and politi­cian. Cape Bre­ton re­mem­bers her as an ath­lete and mu­sic lover. And I re­mem­ber her as a men­tor.

One of the high­lights of my ca­reer was the time I spent with Flora on as­sign­ment to Afghanistan. There’s noth­ing like long air­port de­lays and even longer car trips to give you a sense of a per­son. Deeply po­lit­i­cal, whip smart, and a true hu­man­i­tar­ian, Flora taught me that fame, pres­tige, and po­lit­i­cal ti­tles are but tools to equip the real change­mak­ers on the ground. Her work went straight to the com­mu­nity level, en­gag­ing even her taxi driv­ers to get re­sources into the hands of lo­cal women. Flora un­der­stood what it meant to work at the grass­roots, and she per­son­ally forged deep and last­ing re­la­tion­ships with com­mu­ni­ties around the world.

A staunch fem­i­nist, Flora shat­tered ceil­ings for women like me. To­day, I am the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of The MATCH In­ter­na­tional Women’s Fund. Like Flora, The MATCH Fund is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing women at the grass­roots level, equip­ping lo­cal in­no­va­tors, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, film­mak­ers, teach­ers, and en­trepreneurs. A Cana­dian Fund could not do this in a mean­ing­ful way with­out stand­ing on the backs of the brave Cana­dian women who came be­fore us.

Flora was one of those women. Though our paths in­ter­sected years ago, it did not sur­prise me to learn that Flora was con­nected to The MATCH Fund well be­fore I was even able to vote. For 18 years, she was a quiet and loyal donor, sup­port­ing MATCH projects such as arts cen­tres in Zam­bia and ru­ral net­works in Sri Lanka.

I celebrate Flora Mac­Don­ald as a change­maker and ad­vo­cate for women’s rights. Flora’s home may have been Cape Bre­ton.

But her legacy lives in me and in the thou­sands of women who cre­ate change at the grass­roots ev­ery day.

Jess Tom­lin Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of The MATCH In­ter­na­tional Women’s Fund in Ot­tawa

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