Rest in Peace Jack Layton

My job as a photographer brings me in touch with some pretty interesting people and I'm lucky to have met Jack Layton and his wife Olivia Chow at a number of events over the years.

Still, I'll never forget photographing Jack at a run to fight prostate cancer in the spring of 2010. Fresh on the mend from his own fight against cancer, Jack proudly lead the procession of runners - some prostate cancer survivors themselves, others who had lost a family member - out to the starting line.

I spoke to him briefly before the race began and he was absolutely lovely and told me that his health had never been better. I can recall thinking how fortunate he must have felt to have beat the cancer and to be there that morning to provide encouragement and support. You could see that he was beaming.

This morning I was shocked when I heard about Jack's death. I had just assumed that he would beat this round of cancer as well.

What struck me most though was that in the last few days of his life, when he was no doubt tired and sick, he still found time to write a beautiful letter to provide hope to those suffering from cancer, to his party and to Canadians. I cannot imagine how he found a reserve of strength to do this. It certainly takes a man with a huge heart to provide hope to so many when you know that hope has run out for you.

I loved the timeless closing of his beautiful letter. I'm quite certain that it will be a quote that will be often repeated.

‎"Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton