Raymond Taavel honoured posthumously with Queen's Jubilee MedalSaturday, March 02, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
A man who lived his life as a helpful, caring, non-violent individual, and who died as an innocent murder victim, was remembered and honoured in Sault Ste. Marie Friday evening.
Family and friends of Raymond Taavel gathered at Delta Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront Hotel to express grief, joy and pride as NDP MP Megan Leslie of Halifax presented Taavel’s family with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal Taavel was posthumously awarded last fall.
Taavel, who was a Sault Ste. Marie native, was a well-known writer, magazine editor and activist within the Halifax gay community.
He was also an avid NDP supporter who relished working for New Democrat candidates in election campaigns.
Taavel’s body was discovered in the early morning hours of April 17, 2012 outside a Halifax bar.
He was 49 years old.
He had been badly beaten by a psychiatric patient who had failed to return from an unescorted short leave from the East Coast Forensic Hospital. The man, Andre Noel Denny, is charged with second-degree murder.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, for which Taavel received five nominations following his death, is awarded for dedication to both community and nation.
It was first presented to Taavel’s partner, Darren Lewis, in Halifax in November.
Taavel’s family was unable to attend that ceremony.
Lewis gave the Medal to NDP MP Megan Leslie, who traveled to Sault Ste. Marie to present it to Taavel’s family.
Shown here are Taavel’s brother Andre, his mother Suzanne Blatter, his sister Elizabeth Robins and MP Megan Leslie with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal awarded to Raymond.
“It’s overwhelming,” Blatter told SooToday.com.
“I can’t express how I feel. I’m so grateful Megan came here, and I’m so proud of my son.”
“He was a helper, so gentle. Anything you wanted, he was always there. He was a good son. I miss him.”
As for the long and painful grieving process, Blatter told us “I’m getting there.”
“My family is here in Sault Ste. Marie. Some days we have our moments. It takes time. You can’t forget.”
Awarding of the Medal, of course, won’t reverse the tragedy, but Blatter told us it means a lot for him to be recognized in this way.
“I’m so proud of him. This is wonderful.”
The full text of a news release from NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie's office follows.
SAULT STE. MARIE – NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie (Halifax) presented a posthumous Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal to the family of slain activist Raymond Taavel today in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Raymond was a great advocate for gay rights, democratic reform and community engagement. I was proud to call him my friend,” said Leslie.
Taavel was a prominent Halifax gay rights and social justice advocate who was murdered in 2009.
“This medal is a tribute to all of Raymond's contributions to society. I am honoured to be in Sault Ste. Marie, Raymond's home town, to present this medal to his family, in the presence of friends and allies from his community,” concluded Leslie.