NDP MP Paul Dewar’s dying message: ‘I have found my way to peace’
Paul Dewar, a prominent former NDP MP, human rights advocate and Ottawan, has died.
Dewar succumbed to brain cancer after making public his illness in February 2018 and his terminal diagnosis in June 2018. Officials with the NDP confirmed the news on social media Wednesday evening.
He leaves behind a wife, Julia, and two sons, Nathaniel and Jordan.
Dewar, who represented the riding of Ottawa Centre from 2006 to 2015, had grade 4 glioblastoma — the same type of cancer that killed Gord Downie.
In a farewell letter posted to Facebook, Dewar thanked the people of Ottawa for their support and shared his hopes for the future of Canada and the world.
“The time has come for me to say goodbye. While I have left this place physically, I have some final words I’d like to share,” the posthumous message began.
“I want to say thank you. My whole life was filled with the kindness of the people of Ottawa, but never did I feel the true depth and generosity of your love more than this past year. You were a constant source of comfort and solidarity for me and my family. I am so grateful for all that you have done.”
Dewar also left behind some words of wisdom on how to deal with some of the biggest challenges of the day.
“It is easy sometimes to feel overwhelmed by the gravity of the challenges we face. Issues like climate change, forced migration and the threat posed by nuclear weapons. It’s hard to know how to make a difference,” he wrote.
“The secret is not to focus on how to solve the problem, but concentrate on what you can contribute – to your country, your community and neighbours.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed Dewar as one of Ottawa’s “most dedicated voices” in a statement.
“A teacher, politician, labour activist, and community leader, Paul dedicated his life to the service of others,” read Trudeau’s statement. “Whether from his seat in the House of Commons, or at the front of a classroom, he challenged us all to dream bigger and do better to care for the people around us.”
Tributes poured in on social media, with several lawmakers expressing their admiration for Dewar and their sadness at his passing.
Dewar became a board member of Human Rights Watch Canada and Partners in Health Canada after losing his seat to Liberal MP Catherine McKenna in the last election.
While the NDP was the Official Opposition, Dewar served as the party’s foreign affairs critic.
WATCH BELOW: Tribute to Paul Dewar in House of Commons
Last fall, he received the City of Ottawa’s highest honour when he was presented with the keys to the city for “his service and dedication to his community and country, and his significant contributions to education and youth empowerment.”
The former labour activist and leader called the experience “humbling” and said he shared it with all those who have worked with him over the years.
“Really, this key belongs to all of you … family, friends and the citizens of Ottawa who have supported me and my family, Julia, Nathaniel and Jordan,” Dewar said.
“At first, to be frank with you, I was a little overwhelmed. I thought, ‘Why me? There’s so many incredible people,’” he continued. “And so … I thought, it’s not for me, per se. It’s for the people who I’ve worked [with] and the change that we’ve done together.”
Following his diagnosis, Dewar said he had been re-inspired to help empower young people to work toward a better world.
To that end, he founded a grassroots youth advocacy organization called Youth Action Now.
WATCH: Paul Dewar at the launch of the Youth Action Now initiative in June 2018
“In these past few months I have been shaken to the core and found new determination to do more to support young people’s aspirations to think and act from where they sit,” he said in an open letter published last year when he announced the founding.
“A better world is possible. I believe in the power of the next generation of change leaders to get us there. I want to do my part in unleashing that power. I hope you’ll also be a part of it.”
— With files from Rahul Kalvapalle
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