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A letter to Flora MacDonald’s hometown

Cape Breton Post by Jess Tomlin 29 July 2015

I am deeply saddened to hear of Flora MacDonald’s passing

Canada remembers her as a humanitarian and politician. Cape Breton remembers her as an athlete and music lover. And I remember her as a mentor.

One of the highlights of my career was the time I spent with Flora on assignment to Afghanistan. There’s nothing like long airport delays and even longer car trips to give you a sense of a person. Deeply political, whip smart, and a true humanitarian, Flora taught me that fame, prestige, and political titles are but tools to equip the real changemakers on the ground. Her work went straight to the community level, engaging even her taxi drivers to get resources into the hands of local women. Flora understood what it meant to work at the grassroots, and she personally forged deep and lasting relationships with communities around the world.

A staunch feminist, Flora shattered ceilings for women like me. Today, I am the Executive Director of The MATCH International Women’s Fund. Like Flora, The MATCH Fund is committed to supporting women at the grassroots level, equipping local innovators, policymakers, filmmakers, teachers, and entrepreneurs. A Canadian Fund could not do this in a meaningful way without standing on the backs of the brave Canadian women who came before us.

Flora was one of those women. Though our paths intersected years ago, it did not surprise me to learn that Flora was connected to The MATCH Fund well before I was even able to vote. For 18 years, she was a quiet and loyal donor, supporting MATCH projects such as arts centres in Zambia and rural networks in Sri Lanka.

I celebrate Flora MacDonald as a changemaker and advocate for women’s rights. Flora’s home may have been Cape Breton. But her legacy lives in me and in the thousands of women who create change at the grassroots every day.

Jess Tomlin

Executive Director of The MATCH International Women’s Fund in Ottawa