Fittingly, I was walking my dogs when they announced Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. I got home and went online for a scheduled chat with friends in Oxford as the bells filled their evening, and crowds gathered in London. We cried a bit, but got on with it, agreeing with self-conscious humour that the Queen would expect it of us.
How fortunate to be alive during such a time, with such a monarch, such a force of human power.I loved that she loved horses and dogs; that she looked a bit like my mom, though their lives were so different; that she presided over so many changes to empire.
I met one of her sons (Edward) when I was honoured with a special prize commemorating his wedding. I was invited to meet Her Majesty herself in 2005, when she came here to Edmonton/Amiskwaciy. I didn’t, though, because I wanted to take my baby with me, did not want to leave her for the long hours expected of attendees. The event organizers had at first said it was fine, and that my husband could mind her when I went into the actual ceremonial line-up; but then there was an incident in Banff, where a baby upstaged events, and (while Banff wasn’t cited as the reason) I was abruptly told ‘no babies allowed.’ So I told them fine, carry on, I am a mother first, and shaking hands with someone who won’t remember me doesn’t mean that much. It was no loss.
But this is. So, with millions of others, I mourn her death.
God Rest the Queen. She was magnificent. And I say all this as Lnskw’, a Mi’gmaq woman and Anishinaabe descendant, by Treaty differently related to the Crown than most other Canadians. Our history of enduring abuses committed in the name of Empire is truly hideous. We bore the brunt, so to speak, of the expansion of imperial power. But while I have often understood (or been made to see, quite brutally) why I don’t belong in the same way as other Canadians, still, she was my Queen.
Her life and legend has inspired me as it has done for so many others. She showed the world how to be a woman of worth, of dignity and of steady courage – to be clear, I place her beside and after my mom, my spirit mom and my aunties. They are the personal, she the societal image of what a woman needs to be – strong, grounded, gracious but relentlessly firm.
What a gift to live during her reign. May her soul pass through the Western Door and find its true reward for a life of service and leadership. God Rest Elizabeth the Great.