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The toughest question Roberta Bondar was ever asked

It was asked in Sault Ste. Marie in January, 1992 by a little girl wearing glasses and boots
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File photo - Sudbury.com

The following are remarks made by Dr. Roberta Bondar during tonight's virtual meeting of Sault Ste. Marie City Council.

Dr. Bondar was invited to be congratulated on last week's 30th anniversary of her flight on the space shuttle Discovery, which made her the first Canadian woman in space and the first neurologist in space.

When her camera went live tonight, a picture of Sault Ste. Marie taken from the International Space Station that she usually uses as a background for video conferences, somehow went into what she described as a "black hole."

So Dr. Bondar made the following remarks without video:

The Sault has always been behind me.

Certainly, for my launch I do know the Sault – a lot of citizens packed up and went on buses down to Florida to make sure that I got off the planet okay.

I think people were really quite enchanted when I came back, that I was able to come back.

I just remember it was a wonderful adventure when I did return to the Sault.

Everyone was extremely generous with their comments and outpouring of love and affection.

I must say that one of the things that I remember, besides everything officially that was done, was the fact it was opened up to students to ask questions.

I will never forget the little girl that came up to the microphone.

She was wearing glasses and boots, of course, because it was January.

She came up and she took the microphone and cranked it down to her level and said in a very clear voice: 'What's it like, Dr. Bondar, to be loved by everybody?'

That will remain the hardest question I have ever been asked around the world and out of this world.

It really is wonderful to feel the love from so many people.

I'm very, very happy and very proud of my home town, and as you all know I give it lots of play and did for the event on Jan. 22, the 30th anniversary.

Certainly for the 25th anniversary when I was in my home town, everybody just came up and they were able to say hello and they had a big event to celebrate it and they were very supportive of the foundation that bears my name.

On the 30th anniversary, people shared in and I had the background that I'm sorry you can't see.... It's a lovely space image of the Sault in the winter. I think it was taken on Feb. 2 a couple of years ago from orbit on the International Space Station.

I'm always pointing out the Sault and I'm always pointing out that it's one of the few places in the world that you really know you're over and you don't even have to see the city.

You just know where it is because of the location.

So I thank the Sault and everybody who's listening in and people who might listen in later, for joining today to just allow me to have a little bit of presence.

Trust me. I'm in a black hole but I'm there for you.

Mayor Provenzano then played a music video of special version of Fly Me To The Moon by vocalist Matt Dusk, with lyrics celebrating Dr. Bondar.

She responded further after the mayor read a municipal proclamation about her:

I just want to say that it's extraordinary to be able to be recognized by the city that way.

It makes me feel very humble but very proud of my lineage in the Sault and my formative years.

I always tell people that if you want to get a good view of life, go to the Sault.

So Roberta B. is going to sign off now and wish you all health and happiness.

And get this COVID behind us because we need to be a in a world full of light.

And thank you for bringing some to mine today.

If you happen to know who the little girl in glasses and boots was, please let us know by scrolling down and clicking on the 'add to the story' link below.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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