Elisabeth SALM

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  • "Dear Kyle - I'm so so sorry to hear of this tragedy in..."
    - Leslie French
  • "Dear Lyle and family of Elisabeth, Your tribute to..."
  • "I see you both, Lyle and Elisabeth, running across the..."
    - Tessa Frost

SALM, Elisabeth Christina The core values of service, radical inclusiveness, compassion, and grace make the healing impact of the life of Elisabeth Christina Salm unstoppable. "Djies" was born in Hawkesbury, Ontario on January 21, 1959 - the second of five children. Her father, Jacob Salm, originally from Haarlem, the Netherlands, was greatly influenced by the pioneering plant ecologist and teacher, Jac. P. Thijsse. A few years after Djies' father and her Dutch mother, Ange Willemstijn, immigrated to Canada, her father worked as a forestry engineer in Harrington, Quebec. There the company, CIP, supported him as he took time to educate local youth about the forest.The Jaap Salm Trail and an educational natural science centre in Arundel, Québec are a tribute to that work. Djies inherited from her father and mother a total love of the forest. In 1967 the family moved close to Ottawa, to Honey Gables, off River Road, along the Rideau River. Later she and her husband, Lyle Young, would live on the Rideau River close to Rideau Falls in the Ottawa neighbourhood of New Edinburgh. After graduating from Carleton University with a geology degree, she worked in northern Ontario. There she loved the people but observed serious problems with resource extraction. Taking without giving was antithetical to Djies' being. She had been raised in a Christian Science Sunday School, Christian Science being a faith tradition that teaches that creation is spiritual, good, and to be lovingly cared for. Her dedication to Christian Science particularly increased when in 1990 she married Lyle, who as a Christian Science practitioner gives his full time to helping others through prayer. The couple had terms of endearment for each other in Dutch, Spanish, French, and English languages which they spoke together regularly. Lyle's favourite for her was the Dutch "hartendiefje" - "little stealer of hearts." By her kindness, gentleness, warmth, and love she stole Lyle's heart and of those of others who knew her. The home that Elisabeth made with Lyle epitomized the Dutch "gezelligheid," meaning coziness, warmth, and intimacy. Their house was used for community meetings (choir executive, environmental, indigenous issues, neighbourhood security) and many parties (New Years, July 1, and the Dutch Sinterklaas holiday party). They opened their home to a brother-in-law for about a year, Djies' mother for about two years, and a nephew for four. Their welcoming home continued in Boston where, because of Christian Science church assignments they lived from 2004 to 2007, and when they went back and forth between homes in both Ottawa and Boston between 2011 and 2017. Djies played a key role on two Syrian sponsorship teams and prepared the Salm-Young home to be the first place the families would stay before the teams were able to find permanent housing for them. In one instance she learned, just before visiting a niece in Japan, that one of the families would be arriving. She spent much of that trip emailing through the night details of the house to neighbours and family, from a tatami mat in a small Tokyo apartment, under the covers so as to not disturb the others in the one-room apartment. On May 24, 2018, Elisabeth was working a half block away from city hall at the Christian Science Reading Room, her church's open door to the community, when she experienced a serious attack and sexual assault. She succumbed to the injuries the following day. She had metaphorically and literally given her life to God and the community. Rather than focusing on the way Djies died, we pledge to celebrate and be inspired by the way she lived: her husband, Lyle; her siblings, with their respective families: Luc-Anne, Roland, Floris and Mundie; Lyle's mother, Kezia Young; and Lyle's siblings, with their respective families, their names being Dale, Gary, Verna, Lauren, and Leslie. The "Celebration of Life" service will be held Friday, June 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Avenue. Yes, tears will be shed, but there definitely will be laughter. Donations to the Elisabeth Christina Salm Fund at the Ottawa Community Foundation will be used in a way consistent with her values. Please specify the fund name when making your donation online via www.ocf-fco.ca or when sending a cheque made payable to the Ottawa Community Foundation, to 301-75 Albert Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5E7.
Published in The Ottawa Citizen on May 31, 2018
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