Joy Suluk, a collector of Queen Elizabeth II memorabilia in Canada’s Arctic territory of Nunavut, says she was still trying to process the news of the monarch’s passing on Thursday.
“I’m heartbroken,” Suluk said when reached by phone at her home in the community of Arviat. “It’s so sad. We’re all just shocked.”
Suluk said her admiration of the Queen goes back to childhood and led her to start her eventual collection.
“She became the Queen the year I was born and I always loved her since I was a little girl going to federal day school ” Suluk said.
Suluk eventually got to meet her idol when Queen Elizabeth travelled to the Arctic Canadian community of Rankin Inlet in 1994.
“She was passing through looking at the crafts we had on display. She stopped by and we talked about what I had made. I had made a beaded coat for my youngest daughter and quilt and they were bought by the Royal Family.”
Suluk says she can’t remember in detail what the Queen said to her about her work, other than that she used the word “beautiful.”
Commitment to service set her apart
Suluk said the Queen’s commitment to service will be the most important part of her legacy.
“She did her public duty like I’ve never seen any leader do. She was calm, loyal to her subjects, loyal to the people in the Commonwealth. She never had a private life like we do and was always in the spotlight.
“She was a very strong lady.”
Governor General, Prime Minister offer condolences
Buckingham Palace announced the Queen’s death Thursday, saying the monarch had died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
Earlier in the day, the palace had issued a statement saying doctors were concerned for her health. Members of the Royal Family spent the day gathering at Balmoral to be with her.
Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon, the royal representative in Canada, offered her condolences to Queen Elizabeth’s family.
We offer our deepest condolences to the @RoyalFamily on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Canadians across the country will mourn the loss of The Queen. Let us take a moment to honour Her Majesty’s memory in each of our own ways. pic.twitter.com/DzTMuYzQgX
— Governor General of Canada (@GGCanada) September 8, 2022
In all, the Queen made almost two dozen trips to Canada during her reign.
“Time and again, Her Majesty marked Canada’s modern history,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. “Over the course of 70 years and twenty-three Royal Tours, Queen Elizabeth II saw this country from coast to coast to coast and was there for our major, historical milestones.”
Trudeau described the monarch as “constant presence” in Canadian’s lives.
It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a constant presence in our lives – and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) September 8, 2022
Reuters reports that King Charles III will make a public address on Friday.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca