Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Honourable senators, I rise today to honour the life of our dear friend and colleague, the late Honourable Tobias C. Enverga, Jr, whose sudden and tragic death is hard to grasp.
Senator Enverga, the first Filipino-Canadian senator, was appointed to the Senate on September 6, 2012. He was a very active parliamentarian, both inside and outside of the chamber. Over the course of his time in the Senate, he was a member of several standing Senate committees and the sponsor of Bill S-218, now in its third reading, that would designate every October Latin American Heritage Month. He was the co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Interparliamentary Group and an executive member of the ParlAmericas group. When he wasn’t speaking in the chamber or questioning witnesses in committee, he could be found advocating tirelessly for persons with disabilities, multiculturalism in Canadian society, and community building.
Above all else, Senator Enverga was one of the kindest, sweetest and most good-humoured people I have had the privilege of working with in the Senate. There are many memories of him that come to mind, but there is one in particular that stands out in my mind that I would like to share with you.
In April 2016, Senator Enverga, I, and the other members of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, travelled to Inuit Nunangat to study northing housing. For the entirety of the trip, he was so engaged in the process and our meetings with witnesses, peppering them with questions sprouting from a deeply genuine concern for their unique situation and overall well-being. He also did what a great Senate committee member and humane person does; he just listened, took it all in without any bias or judgment, allowing himself to truly come to understand the situation and move forward with the knowledge necessary to help remedy it in accordance with the people’s desires.
There is a picture of that trip in the halls of Senator Enverga and I all bundled up in our puffy winter jackets. I think it was in Igloolik, as Far North as I’ve ever been, and I’m sure the same for Senator Enverga. He is sitting in the driver’s seat of the snowmobile, happy as a clam. I found out that he loved nature. What an incredible person. Every time I walk by that picture, it warms my heart in memory of the time that we shared on that trip.
That man in that photo is who I will remember, a friend who had great zest for life and who cared deeply for the well-being of those around him.
His funeral this past Monday, at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica in Toronto, was inspirational, moving and memorable. My sincerest condolences to his wife Rosemer, his three beautiful daughters, and his family.
Honourable Tobias C. Enverga, Jr., rest in peace, dear friend and colleague.