View From the Legislature

Queen Elizabeth II Leaves a Legacy

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

The news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II last week perhaps wasn’t surprising given the 96-year-old sovereign had been battling health concerns for several months, and yet, it still managed to be shocking. Shocking because the news marked the passing of the only monarch that most Canadians have ever known.

As the longest-ruling British monarch, having just this past summer celebrated her Platinum Jubilee (70 years as Queen), she has been involved in more history making events than almost anyone alive during her time. For Canadians, that history stretches from opening the Canadian Parliament in 1957, Opening the 1976 Olympics in Montreal to helping bring home the Constitution in 1982. Because she visited Canada many times, there are several of these formal occasions which have been well documented. Less documented were the thousands of brief but impactful interactions she had with Canadians over her many years as Queen.

Since her passing, many Canadians have shared these stories and overwhelmingly they have talked of very personal, humble, and sometimes humorous interactions. These encounters happened in every region of our country including right here in Steinbach when the Queen visited in July of 1970. That moment was captured in many pictures, the most famous being of a four-year-old Lisa Epp presenting flowers to the Queen on the steps of Steinbach City Hall.

Perhaps the thing that has been mentioned most since her passing is how the Queen has been a calming presence in so many turbulent times. Many have recalled listening to her addresses during times of political turmoil, economic downturns, war and pandemic. Of course, it is well documented that the Queen, who it is often easy to forget was a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, had many difficult personal challenges to face as well. The most recent coming with the loss of her husband Prince Philip last year. And while she famously pledged as a 21-year-old during a broadcast from South Africa to a life of duty, it would have been impossible to have predicted just how much resilience that commitment would require.

Canadians have many divided views on the role and future of the monarchy. And yet, perhaps that resiliency is one of the reasons that the vast majority of Canadians, regardless of their views on the monarchy, had a positive impression of Queen Elizabeth II. Overwhelmingly they seem to have appreciated her connection to history, her connection to Canada and the resiliency she showed in performing her duty. Her legacy has touched many people and will live on for many generations.

There have been a number of official Manitoba Books of Condolence set up in the province including at Steinbach City Hall. Any resident who wishes to express their condolence on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II is welcome to sign.