Margaret, Twinkle, Maggie —
You left us too early. You’ve been our colleague, friend, visionary and a founding spark in the establishment of Sunshine House back in 1999. Before that, you were a fire in the Living Room project of Village Clinic. This impulse came from your urge to act as an advocate and in solidarity with clients, meeting them as they are, and where they are at. You loved humanity, especially people in a marginalized situation. You wanted practical action. You modelled putting hospitality, respect, education and preventative outreach at the heart of your approach to healthcare and the people being served, whether it was in First Nations nursing stations, at P.O.W.E.R., Village Clinic or Sunshine House.
My fateful meeting of Margaret was when I went to work at Village Clinic which involved mainly HIV-related work and Margaret was coordinator of medical care. Her creativity and energy provided that spark which inspired many of the staff to engage in strategies and projects that took our organization into new activities of prevention, education and fundraising. Her curiosity and respect for our clients usually led her to question everything, and led the staff to reflect more deeply on our work together and to take the bold steps needed.
One bold step was in the co-founding of a place which would offer a place to be yourself, hospitality, sociability, friendship, meals together, accurate information and outlets for creativity. Some fun and the building of a community in the midst of stigma, ostracism and often racism in the lives of those coming to Sunshine House. Sunshine House was the home base for the Kali Shiva AIDS Society, an organization made up largely of volunteers in the 80’s and 90’s when HIV was a largely misunderstood viral disease with no cure and little or nothing in the way of effective treatments.
Its work shifted to care of women and Indigenous folks in the 2000s. Programming in this period also included drop-in and outreach to street-involved people. Margaret provided leadership thoughout these years, as a volunteer or employee, depending on what funding was available. She was often involved in research projects as she believed in evidence to base actions on. Many innovations in programming were implemented, from JD and the Sunshine Band to many modules of hands-on learning such as bike and car repair and Like That!
We are heartbroken along with Margaret’s family. We offer them our sympathy and support. Margaret, we love you and are going to miss you more than words can say.
— Pat Stewart
A memorial for Margaret Ormond, open to all who were moved by her, will be held Tuesday, August 30 at 1:00 pm at the West End Cultural Centre, 586 Ellice Ave. The memorial will be streamed live at our YouTube channel: Sunshine House on YouTube