Sunday, February 27, 2011

Memorial Service for Laura Ann Young

It was heartening to see so many people attending this simple service for this 37 year old woman.  As many of my readers know, Laura was murdered, her body was found behind a house on Cathcart Street  in downtown Hamilton.  

In attendance were people from all walks of life.  Able bodied people and people with various physical and mental disabilities.I was particularly heartened to see a mother with two young girls in attendance. What a good way to show these young girls that all people count, no matter what their lifestyle has been.  I saw many familiar faces of people who make the Freeway their home away from home.  The Freeway is a drop in center at the corner of Wellington and King Street East.  It is run, to the best of my knowledge, by the Salvation Army.  People can buy snacks and drinks at reasonable prices, there is free internet service and people from all walks of life are made welcome.

 At the service, there was a reporter and a photographer from the Hamilton Spectator in attendance. I was able to have a few words with the photographer which was very enjoyable to me.  Very nice fellow. 

Pat Finnigan, of  Good Sheppard, an agency in Hamilton which helps disadvantaged people, gave the Eulogy.  Her words were eloquent but simple and touched the assembled people.

The lady from Edgemount Manor, which is a care facility here in Hamilton where Laura sometimes lived, also spoke a few words. Opportunity during the service was given to those who wished to say a word about Laura and many people did.  Her Mother, Fay McPhail of Cambridge, also spoke briefly of happier times with Laura.  The last time she heard her daughter's voice on the phone was on Valentine's Day when Laura called her to tell her how much she loved her and missed her. Plans were made for a visit on her Mom's birthday, February 20th, but this was not to be. Laura was murdered before that.

As a mother myself, it was heart breaking for me to listen to the words spoken by the Mom.  No mother would want this to happen to their child.  I think this is the part that affected me the most, her mother talking of happier times before things went wrong.

Two excellent musicians - Jared Both and Michelle Drew

Pat Finnigan - Good Sheppard

A lovely buffet all done by volunteers - food partially provided by the vendors at the Farmer's Market

Laura was very known in the downtown core. She lived in a boarding house with a meal plan, but she was out of her lodgings a fair bit of time.She could be seen at the Freeway asking people for money, at Jackson's Square, and on the street.She was not aggressive in her manner and many of the people who spoke about her, had positive things to say.

It brings to mind that all people's circumstances can change.  Illness, whether mental or physical can hit any person.  People who are ill in Ontario can qualify for Ontario Disability payments but it is not easy to get. I personally have helped fill out forms for a person of disability in Toronto.  He had given up trying to figure out the forms and was barely existing.  Together we filled it out and eventually he succeeded in getting the disability pension. He is a Canadian, born and bred, but has trouble with reading and writing.  Another lady I know, tries to survive on $800.00 a month.  She is severely disabled.

 How can anybody pay rent and eat on so little money?  Life in Canada is expensive.  In big cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Hamilton, rents are high as are transportation costs.  There are people who have to choose between paying the rent or buying enough food.  Why is that?  If they don't pay the rent, eventually after due process of law, they will lose their place. 

All these questions need answers and disability payments need to be raised in order for people to live without begging.  Canada, after all, is an affluent country.

Am I my brother's keeper?  If you had a reversal of fortune, would you not want the answer to be "Yes?"

Thank you for reading my blog.  May Laura rest in peace.

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