Friends of Cherry Kingsley grieve the loss of a vibrant, fun woman they came to know living with her at a downtown Nanaimo women’s shelter.
Yet they said even they were just learning the extent of her incredible life, before her death on Nov. 30.
“I was amazed,” said friend Sharon Sandegren.
“She just had a smile that could light up the world and it literally did,” said friend and fellow shelter resident Michelle Brassard.
Senator Kim Pate, spoke about Kingsley in Canada’s Senate on Tuesday.
“Cherry was brilliant, articulate, courageous, generous and caring and used her experiences to open the eyes and minds of many,” said Sen. Kim Pate in Ottawa.
Kingsley had lived a tragic life. A victim of abuse, she was in and out of foster homes in her brief childhood, before becoming a victim of human trafficking as a teen.
“Her childhood was horrific and she was forced into the sex trade a young age,” said Sandegren.
But she turned it all, into becoming a world-renowned advocate for victims. Sharing her life experiences, on a global scale. Her work garnered her a Governor General’s award in 2000.
“She challenged police officers, social workers, politicians, and the UN to uphold the rights of women and children,” said Sen. Pate.
Despite all that she conquered, Kingsley contracted COVID-19 on the streets of Nanaimo, when an outbreak of the virus spread quickly among the homeless population in October.
“It was just weird all of a sudden everyone was becoming sick,” said Brassard.
Cherry Kingsley died a month after contracting COVID-19 at 53 years old.
“I think about her every day. It’s a shame,” said Sandegren.