Leilani inspired all who knew her. Until her last days she worked hard to help others stand up to abuse and bullying. To honour this – and because it was Leilani’s favorite colour – attendees at today’s memorial celebration wore pink. We did our best to send Leilani off, and even played some Elvis, whom she adored. Mostly, we shared in this great loss and remembered her resilience, deep sense of humanity, and accomplishments.
University of Alberta Art Collection staff made a special trip to temporarily install Nick Supina’s beautiful painting of Leilani in the chapel for all to enjoy during the celebration. Nick walked us through the symbolism of his artwork.
Father Jim Holland spoke eloquently to the importance of treating everyone equally. Friends and family shared stories about Leilani. We laughed, we cried. The Honourable Rachel Notley sent this tribute:
We’ve lost a true champion. Leilani’s courage and determination serves as an example to people around the world to stand up for what is right. She leaves us with an incredible legacy as an advocate, trailblazer, and mentor. It is now up to us to keep her story alive as testament to her struggle against mistreatment. We can do this by leading lives filled with dignity and respect for all people.
– Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta
Leilani’s story is featured in a series of interviews with survivors of eugenics in Alberta. These stories were recorded by Eugenics Archives, with funding from the Community-University Research Alliance Program of SSHRC and the resources afforded by community and university partnerships.
The Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project launched its website on Friday Oct 24, 2014. The new website features interviews with Leilani and other Alberta eugenics survivors, as well as interactive games and other resources for educators and researchers.
The film Surviving Eugenics in the 21st Century: Our Stories Told received its world premier at Metro Cinema on October 21, 2013. In attendance were the filmmakers, survivors, and other interviewees. The film was produced as part of the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project. Learn more about the film and watch the trailer here.
Cast and friends: Linda Grass, Sandra Anderson, Leilani O’Malley, Jenny McKillop, Randy Brososky
I was shocked and very happy to hear last Saturday that our Fringe play won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for drama, at the annual Alberta Literary Award banquet.
Thanks and congratulations to the talented David Cheoros, who wrote this wonderful play. Thank you also to Lou for helping me write my story and bring it to David. And to Jenny, Linda, Randy and Vincent, for this labour of love.