Tribute to Mavis Elaine Burke
by Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes – As presented at the memorial service
Consul General, family members, friends, colleagues and associates of Mavis.
Today, I’d like to share a few thoughts about the Mavis I knew – a cherished friend, a colleague and a trusted mentor.
We met 46 years ago … It was 1976 (I was with the Scarborough Board of Education, and Mavis with the Toronto Board). As with so many of her friends and colleagues, Multicultural Education (and all that would entail) brought us together.
I was in the audience for her lecture to a group of education leaders. Inez Elliston (a towering presence in her own right, and sadly no longer with us) had told me about Mavis and invited me to attend. That afternoon, I caught a glimpse of her passionate intensity, and what I would come to realize was an unfailing energy and commitment to whatever cause she would put her mind to – Mavis projected an infectious & unfailing belief in the art of the possible.
Delighted & energized, I introduced myself & left the lecture determined to follow-up. In the ensuing years, Mavis would become a trusted friend to my partner Anne-Marie and me. She could always be counted on for advice and wise counsel. She could also be counted on for a wicked sense of humour and of fun.
It was pure serendipity that brought Mavis and Helen north to live on Morning Glory Way (and across the street from Bluffwood where Anne-Marie and I had our home) – And just like magic, we became neighbours as well as friends. Soon after, missives cheekily addressed to “The Bluffwood Babes” from “The Morning Glories” would arrive in our mailbox!
She also never missed a chance to mark a celebratory event – preferably with flowers. Like the beautiful tropical arrangement that arrived at The Arts and Letters Club to mark the launch of The Fires of Naming, my first collection of poetry. It was spectacular … and my publisher was thrilled!
Generous with her time, always opening doors … Mavis kept me in the fold, validating my Jamaican roots. For me, her passing leaves a void – a sense of being un-tethered…
Rest well, my friend. You are loved & will always be remembered.