Speech – Tribute to the Late Honourable Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.
November 29, 2017
Honourable senators, I’m proud to wear a traditional Filipino barong in the chamber today to honour and pay my respects to the first Filipino-Canadian senator in the Senate of Canada — and he was so proud of that — the Honourable Senator Tobias Enverga, Jr., my dear friend. Senator Enverga was a dear friend inside and outside the Senate. He and I formed a special bond because of my close connection the Filipino community through my wife.
Together, Tobias and his wife, Rosemer; and my wife, Evelyn, and I shared very special memories that I will cherish forever. One special memorable moment was the first time Senator Enverga visited us in Nunavut with Rosemer, shortly after his appointment. It was December, and it was bitterly cold and dark, and the sea ice was frozen in the bay. “I want to see what it’s like out there,” he said. “How do the Inuit stay warm in this cold place?”
So he donned sealskin mitts, polar bear pants and a caribou parka, and bravely headed out on the sea ice by snowmobile to experience life in the Arctic in the dead of winter.
He approached that visit the same way he approached life: full of energy, wonder and joy. What I will miss most about “Jun,” as he was known to friends and family, is his great capacity to love. He loved his family deeply. He loved his country, his community and his job.
This was well expressed by his parish priest and good friend Father Ben Ebcas, who said on Monday at his funeral, paraphrasing the Gospel of St. Matthew:
Well done, good and faithful senator. You have been faithful to small matters by being true and brave and filling the world with love.
Many said of Senator Enverga that he had an inability to say “no.” I would argue that he did not have a desire to say “no” because he lived a life of service. As we’ve heard today, he was involved in many charitable organizations and was extremely active in the Filipino community, respected across Canada and throughout the world.
Farewell, my friend. Thanks for all the lives you have touched. You will remain an inspiration to us in our work and in our hearts forever. Rest in peace.