News / Toronto

Hundreds gather to celebrate city councillor Pam McConnell’s life and legacy

The veteran councillor’s colleagues say they must honour Pam McConnell’s by continuing her work fighting poverty.

Rev. Brent Hawkes prays with Councillors Paula Fletcher and Janet Davis at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Sunday. Communion was dedicated to Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell who died Friday.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Rev. Brent Hawkes prays with Councillors Paula Fletcher and Janet Davis at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Sunday. Communion was dedicated to Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell who died Friday.

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at a Toronto church to celebrate the life of longtime city councillor Pam McConnell, pledging to honour her legacy by continuing her work to help those in need.

McConnell, a city councillor since 1994 and a champion of Toronto’s poverty-reduction strategy, died last week from health problems with her lungs. She was 71.

City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell has died. She was 71.

City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell has died. She was 71.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star

City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell has died. She was 71.

Rev. Brent Hawkes told the crowd of dignitaries, family and constituents filling the pews of the Metropolitan Community Church that they must carry on McConnell’s fight for social justice.

“Look around this city and see who is in need, to see who doesn’t have enough, and do what we can to make sure they do have enough,” Hawkes said in a communion address memorializing McConnell.

“Let us also be committed to what she worked for, what she lived for.”

Hawkes read aloud an email McConnell had sent him on June 23, notifying him that she would not be able to make his sermon at Toronto’s Pride celebrations because of health problems. She wrote the letter from her hospital bed, hooked to an oxygen mask, he said.

Pam McConnell's husband Jim is flanked by their daughters at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Sunday. Communion was dedicated to the veteran councillor, who died Friday at age 71.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Pam McConnell's husband Jim is flanked by their daughters at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Sunday. Communion was dedicated to the veteran councillor, who died Friday at age 71.

“If I could write a letter back, I would say . . . ‘Pam, look around you and the city you helped build. You built it with your love, your tenacity and your strategic brilliance. But it is your love for us, our love for you, our love for each other, our love for this city, that will inspire us to continue,’ ” Hawkes said.

Mayor John Tory attended the church service, as did several city councillors and former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall.

Toronto Mayor John Tory arrives as the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Sunday. The communion was dedicated to veteran Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell who died Friday.

Steve Russell/Toronto Star

Toronto Mayor John Tory arrives as the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto on Sunday. The communion was dedicated to veteran Councillor and Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell who died Friday.

“Her real legacy will be the work she did to help other people,” Tory said after the service. He appointed McConnell a deputy mayor in 2014.

“We’ll have to move forward and I think it will be an extra impetus behind this knowing she would want us to implement (the poverty reduction strategy) as quickly and to do as much for people who are struggling as we can.”

More on Metronews.ca