Today I want to feature the toughest bastard I’ve ever met in my life. Paul was a contradiction in terms. He was endlessly patient, kind, and optimistic, but he was also fearless in the face of adversity and relentless in his pursuit of equality and human rights.
He has left lucrative work to ensure his daughters had a chance at an education, after quotas appeared restricting their access to post-secondary institutions in Sri Lanka. He has run an orphanage alongside his wife, mostly helping children whose parents have been killed in the war. He has acted as a primary contact for parents in the area whose children have disappeared and as a point person to report such crimes to the police. The latter getting him arrested on trumped up charges and only months of work by Amnesty International, pressure from the Canadian government, and the hard work of lawyers working his case for free got him released.
Even after he returned to Canada, he was a vocal supporter of human rights and contributed heavily to charitable causes even when it was financially prohibitive.
I knew Paul for about 7 years. In that time, I have never heard him complain. Not when he was no longer able to walk on his own, not when he was no longer able to care for himself, not when he was moved out of his home and into a full care facility. He found reasons to be happy in situations I could barely see myself surviving, let alone smiling through. I genuinely believe anyone fortunate enough to have been touched by him has come away a better person for it.
Monday afternoon, while enjoying a Thanksgiving lunch with one of his loving daughters, Paul suffered a heart attack and left us. He was just 4 months shy of his 90th birthday. The world is a darker place with him gone.
If you knew Paul and would like to attend the memorial service, it is this Saturday (Oct 18) at 11AM at St. Paul’s Cathedral.