Niagara Falls Resident Linda Babb Passed Away January 17th, 2022 at Age 76. A Memorial Gathering Was Held for Her this June
By Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
Posted June 17th, 2022
When I was still in the hospital late this past December and through the New Year, being treated for a stress-related heart episode, one of the many kind notes I received came from Linda Babb.
“Please Doug,” she wrote, “get well soon. … I am sending the very best of wishes for a speedy FULL recovery. Much love, Linda Babb.”
Thirteen days later, while I was home recovering, I received the shocking news that she had suddenly died. And yes, I think for almost everyone I talked to who knew her, the news came right out of the dark, grey skies.
To this day, it is hard to believe that such a passionate life force is gone.
I don’t think it will really sink in for me until – post-pandemic, we are ever finally back at face-to-face meetings in the Niagara Regional Council chambers again or at meetings at a community centre over an important environmental or planning issue, and she is not there.
Because Linda, God bless her (or God help her, some might say), was almost always there, and if I was sitting near her and some of the politicians at the front were refusing to disclose what she be public information or refusing to give enough consideration to the concerns of ordinary citizens, you could hear her saying out loud: “Can you believe this? Where is the respect for the public here?”
I have to admit that for the longest time, I thought her reaction was a bit naïve for someone who had a long history of working in public service in British Columbia for much of her adult life.
I was kind of thinking; “Doesn’t she know this is the way many politicians behave. She sounds like a bit of a babe in the woods.”
Thinking back at all of that now, I endorse her response of incredulity and slap myself a bit for becoming jaded enough about politics and politicians to almost accept the B.S. and lack of transparency and accountability to make of our politicians try to make us endure as THE NORM.
She’s was right. B.S. from our elected representatives should never be the norm. The moral compass Linda Babb was guided by knew that.
This past June 10th, a memorial gathering for Linda Babb was held at a place in south Niagara Falls called the Heartland Forest Park, where a bench was dedicated in her name.
As a the gathering of Niagara area citizens, including a handful of the few Niagara Falls city councillors she liked and Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates, looked on, her daughter, Mairi, delivered a beautiful eulogy to her mother.
Here is an excerpt from it –
“Such beautiful music,” after a guitarist at the memorial service played a song. “My mum is dancing for us.
“Thank you all for being here today and for generously dedicating this bench in honour of my mum. I’ve heard so much about you and your discussions and exchanges over the years. She would be so happy that our worlds are finally colliding – I’m just sad it’s under these circumstances. …
“You all knew my mum – either online or in “real life” as she would put it (so and so is a REAL LIFE friend) – so I don’t need to tell you how incredible she was. But I will anyway. My mum was a brilliant writer and speaker and advocate, an innovative thinker, a problem solver, a fighter.
“She had a way of making everyone feel seen and appreciated and more capable than they ever imagined possible and she truly believed in everyone’s potential to be remarkable. She could inspire like no one else.
“One good pep talk, accompanied by her world-brightening smile and you felt invincible. She never blew smoke arbitrarily – She had absolutely no time for jingoism, or glad-handing or political double-speak.
“She abhorred deceit and corruption and grift and unscrupulousness and wouldn’t hesitate to call it out – no matter where she saw it. My mum did not back down.
“I remember her telling me with glee how the police had shown up at her door, investigating a complaint that she had threatened the mayor. Her innocent old lady act was well-served by the fact that she hadn’t yet put her dentures in that morning….
“She was passionate and brave and never met a debate she didn’t want to engage in. Despite an almost fanatical commitment to her ideals – she would rather lose her job than compromise them – she never stopped asking questions and reevaluating long-held beliefs and “truths”. We had many a knock-down, drag out fight…but she always heard me and we always ended with an affirmation of how much we appreciated and deeply loved each other.
“She taught me to have opinions and that as long as they were informed, they had value. She taught me to hold our representatives accountable, to let them know when they were failing us, and to vote for the issues that concern me, not just blindly follow party lines.
“My mum could turn any topic around to politics. And there was no way I alone could sate her appetite for discussion. And so I am so glad that her project,
“The People’s Platform became so successful and such an incredible outlet for her passion and her brilliance. We literally had to buy her a new keyboard because she wore the letters off her (not really that old!) laptop keys. I am so proud of everything she accomplished in her time here.
“Her contributions to a myriad of committees and community groups and social programs and protests is awe-inspiring….and I know she had so much more she wanted to accomplish.
“I will strive to be as brave and committed and driven as she was and to affect change wherever I can….but she’s sure a tough act to follow.
“I know the People’s Platform is non-partisan so I’ll behave but I will leave you with this quote from Plato in light of our recent dismal turnout in the Provincial Election: One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
“Thank you all again for coming and for continuing to spread her message of political engagement, activism, and accountability. I can’t tell you how much your messages and tributes on the People’s Platform helped in those early days where it seemed so impossible and I will cherish them forever.
I hope you have a great summer and all the best for the municipal election in the fall. I’ll be keeping my eye on it!
NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.
splendid – — so special…thanks
Linda was a wonderful person. She always had time to lend an ear or give advice on how to best advocate for our community. I am so very sorry to learn of her passing.