Thank you, Margaret!

Remembering a beloved member of the U of M community

Letters published in the Manitoban are edited for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Views expressed in the letters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manitoban.

Margaret Tobin was a counsellor for students at the University of Manitoba when I met her for the first time as a graduate student full of confusion about my life, my goals, my opportunities, and my future. Her job was to advise, not to promise the unattainable, and so she did. Mostly she listened to me, helped to see my real problems and my unnecessary ones, and she helped me through a phase of my life that I consider tough.

I knew little about her then, but she has been far more than an advisor for university students. She, as a social worker by profession, has established and run a community-wide organization, a choir without audition, welcoming people who want to sing as a form of self-expression, stress-release, meditation, harmony, coming to peace, or just for their spirit’s call.

When I met her again several years later, it was during one annual concert of this choir, and by then she had also established a bursary at the U of M for single mothers as an encouragement to engage in post-secondary education in social work. The concert, and several others I attended, also empowered several mothers of many nations or races landing in Winnipeg and many other charities working here to improve people’s lives in our community in many different ways.

I personally enjoyed very much the choir’s concerts and every time I listened to Margaret speak at these events, I felt as if I had done something good for my fellow humans just by being there. In my life with the work, the kids, and the rush of every day, it has been harder and harder to find a way to help my fellows, and I now realize how people with a special drive, like Margaret, are so important to be with us and help us to give – for harmony.

I will not run into her again in person as she has passed away. Without being able to thank her one last time for all the joyful concerts, for all the beautiful moments of harmony that her work brought to my heart, I decided to share this story with current U of M students. Perhaps you will grow up to be as she was: empowering the world to be in harmony.

Thank you for all that you have done, dear Margaret Tobin.

Katinka Stecina
Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology