Rehtaeh’s Eulogy

My family and I want to first thank everyone for the outpouring of notes, emails, prayers, and kind words. I want you to know they have brought us comfort during what has been the most difficult time of our lives. We have heard from recipients of organ donation, women who have been subject to assault, survivors, strangers, and families with struggling teens who wanted to give up but read about Rehtaeh and instead told someone first.

Each of these people told us how Rae’s story has helped them. People in Algeria, the United Kingdom, California, Australia, everywhere.

But I want to spend this time to share with you how my daughter lived.

I spent my life believing that the single most important thing a father can give his children is his time. There is nothing as important as that.

That belief has now turned into a blessing as I look back on the many fond memories I have with my daughter. I have a lifetime of them. Her lifetime.

Memories of pushing her in a stroller down Spring Garden Road and watching people approaching us break into a smile as they saw her beautiful beaming face.

Rehtaeh was passionate towards living life right from the beginning. When she was still in her crib, she would line up all her stuffed animals inside it and yell at them in her little baby talk. She was already expressing her spirit to live life on her terms, even in a diaper.

She always had a way of drawing others in, even complete strangers. When she was 3 years old we spent a lot of time in the Public Gardens. I remember she had a little mechanical dog that yelped and flipped in the air. She loved it and would walk right up to random couples in the park and tell them to watch while the mechanical dog did it’s flip. When it was finished, she would hold up her little finger and ask ‘one more time..?’ No one ever said no. How could they?

Every weekend I had to have bird feed at home because she always wanted to feed the ducks. Her love of animals began very early in her life.

In 2003, I had to go to Florida for a course with the Navy. Rehtaeh flew down for Christmas and I had arranged a training session with her and a dolphin as her gift from Santa. Rae didn’t hesitate for a second to jump in the pool. It’s as if her and the dolphin were kindred spirits. As if she was doing what she was born to do.

When Krista came into my life, I was nervous about Rae meeting her for the first time. But I had nothing to worry about. My little girl walked right up to her and, as I watched in wonder, she handed Krista a paper flower.

Her nose was always in a book. At 13, she read Stephen Hawkings a “History of Time”. Who reads that at 13? I can’t read it and I’m 50. She was destined for something extraordinary.

She was the perfect combination of strength and vulnerability. We would often have deep intellectual conversations with her on social issues, animal rights, news items from around the world. She would regularly recite facts and statistics about dogs, sharks, and wildlife. She would talk about God and the universe and then remind me of the battle between adulthood and childhood and ask me to tuck her in.

Last year I created a user account on my computer so she could use it for school. Without me knowing, she set up a password on that account. So I bet with her that I could ‘hack’ it.

She said, ‘no you can’t’ but then I clicked on her hint and it said ‘Ghandi’. I looked at her and correctly guessed her password. It was “Be the Change.”

That’s the kind of person my daughter was.

My daughter was wonderful because her mother was wonderful. Her desire to be bigger then life was wonderful. Her spirit was wonderful.

She was going to do something great.

Rae, if you’re listening, that mission was accomplished. I know it was. I’ve had people from around the world tell me it was.

Fly high my wonderful angel.

You’re free.




Parsons, Rehtaeh Anne – of Dartmouth, was born December 9, 1995, in Halifax to Leah Parsons and Glen Canning. Our beautiful, beloved daughter Rae left this world on April 7, 2013 at the age of 17. She was predeceased by her maternal grandparents Anne and Ronald of Pictou, NS and her paternal grandfather Tony Canning of Ottawa, ON. Rae is survived by her mother, Leah and her partner Jason Barnes of Cole Harbour; her father, Glen Canning and his wife Krista of Halifax; her two darling sisters, Temyson and Teaghan of Cole Harbour and many loving aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Rae was a free spirit and free thinker. She was a scientist and astronomer. She had a passion for reading all kinds of literature and loved the arts, history, biology and learning about life. She was a passionate painter who found beauty in things others overlooked. Rehtaeh was a lover of animals and expressed a deep sense of love, devotion and empathy to animals in need. A compassionate heart, Rae felt for those less fortunate and never wanted to hurt others. We are proud and privileged to call her our daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend. We would like to extend a special thank you to the QEII team of caregivers who helped make Rae’s final journey a peaceful one. These include Drs. Witter and Hancock as well as Jane, Pamela, and Jane. In addition, our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Abidi of Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth. Your support meant the world to Rae. Visitation will be held from 2-4 & 7-9 p.m. Friday April 12 at Atlantic Funeral Home 771 Main St., Dartmouth. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday April 13 at Saint Mark’s Anglican Church, 5522 Russell St., Halifax. In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to visit the SPCA for donation or to walk a dog. Donations may also be made to East Coast German Shepherd Rescue. On-line condolences may be sent by visiting the Dartmouth chapel at: