Tribute to the late Honourable Josée Forest-Niesing

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Majors Hill Park, Ottawa

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, on November 20 we all received the shocking and sad news that our colleague and friend Senator Josée Forest-Niesing had passed away. She was only 56. Appointed in 2018, Senator Forest-Niesing only served in the Senate for just over three years, but in those three years it was clear to anyone who met her that she brought to this chamber a real passion and dedication to get things done.

Senator Busson, Senator Griffin and I had the pleasure of serving on the Senate Committees Mandates Working Group with Josée. We were a small group and worked closely together over several months to produce recommendations and ideas on how to best update our committee mandates.

One of our working group meetings was the last time I spoke to Josée. She was very ill at the time but insisted on taking part in the meeting’s discussions from her bed with the video off. She passed away only days later. Unfortunately, Senator Forest-Niesing was not with us when we completed our final report and presented it to the Senate Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

Colleagues, Josée’s passing is the loss of a strong voice in this chamber as an advocate for minority language communities. She defended access to justice and to public service in both official languages and in sign language. Her advocacy for Indigenous communities will also remain a part of her legacy.

So many from her community have spoken, honouring the impact she made over her lifetime of public service. This lifetime of service and experience would have only further enriched our work here in the Senate.

We will miss her friendship and her wonderful smile, as well as her valuable contributions to our work here in the Senate. Josée had so much to offer and left us far too soon.

On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to her husband, Robert, and to all her family and friends. Thank you.


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