4th update: August 14, 2020, 4:41 PM

3rd update: August 8,2020, 8:10 AM

2nd Upate: August 8, 2020, 8 AM

First update: August 8, 2020, 7 AM

Toronto, Ontario

The recent visit to The Hub brought back memories of how Rani Rivera came to start the project. Here’s what her parents posted on Facebook.

The Hon. Ahmed Hussein, Canada’s Minister of Families,Children and Social Development drop by The Hub which is located in his constituency. (Photo: Ahmed Hussein)

Children and Social Development and Member of Parliament for York South-Weston, recently visited The Community Place Hub, in Weston, Toronto. 

“The Hub was started by our late daughter Rani Rivera in 2014 with the help of Progress Place, to help women (single moms and stay-at-home moms), the unemployed, children and youth and the elderly in the southwest end of Toronto. #YSW

The Hub was provided by the owner of the two tall apartment buildings where the Hub is located. 

Rani told us, “Mom, the roof is leaking and there’s no furniture, just an empty space.” 

But she was determined. She went door-to-door, asking the residents what they wanted to do with the space. One by one, they came. The women, the children and youth, the elder folks, the jobless. 

Wish Rani could read this post to see how her dream has borne fruit.

Patty and Joe”

Ahmed Hussen

August 5 at 1:44 PM ·

#CanadaSummerJobs provides students the work experience and skills they need. Today I visited the Wmd Hub to check out some of the ways they are providing employment and helping build a future for young people in the community.

 

“…She left behind a stunning legacy…”

By Teodoro Alcuitas

Editor, Philippine Canadian News.com (PCN.com)

Sometimes she’s here

Sometimes she’s not

Sometimes she’s like the road running by

    -Haiku by Patria Rivera, 2020

By all accounts she was on her way to healing, having a job she loved and a relationship that was blossoming.

She was at the prime of her life, albeit a life full of struggles and triumphs.

But on the early morning of Tuesday, August 3, 2016, Rani Rivera’s lifeless body’s was found by Toronto police in her bathroom floor and her depression medications all around her.

She was 35.

For the family and  parents Joe and Patria (Patty), that was the end of her journey.  “… (T)he broken type of journey where she experiences so many different disappointments, struggles and dealing with relationships,” mother Patty said after her death.

Until she discovered her writings in her computer. Poems that she never knew existed until her boyfriend  gave her Rani’s computer, just a month after her death.

Patty, an accomplished and published poet knew Rani shared her passion for poetry.

But to find more than a 100 poems written in 10 years overwhelmed her, she told The Catholic Register in an interview during the launching of Rani’s  book ‘All Violet’.

“It’s like a young woman’s journey and hers is not of a typical, straight-laced young woman,” she said.

Found happiness in others

“Rani had a real, lifelong struggle with finding her identity and finding what she really wanted in life… but in the end, she found that it was not in seeking happiness for herself but it was in seeking happiness and wellbeing for others that she could find happiness. I think that’s one lesson I got from her.”

Patty knew he had to fulfill Rani’s dream to be a poet and went to work with her contacts. 

The result was All Violet, published by Dagger Editions, an imprint of Caitlin Press in Vancouver in September 2017, a year after her death.  All proceeds of the book benefit Progress Place. 

“In All Violet, a young woman chronicles the experience of living on the margins, in spaces and places where body and mind are flayed by guilt, disappointments and betrayals. Her poems record the shattering trauma of struggling to survive through periods of doubt, fear, rage and pain, creating a narrative of disconnection, indignation, alienation and emptiness, the extremes of suffering and desperation.

“Employing lyrical free verse, Rani Rivera has skillfully employed the short line to pinpoint moments of acute perception.”

“Unadorned, taut and precise cries of pain, loss and fury draw the reader deeper and deeper inside this in-your-face confrontation with a dark world of foreboding alleviated by flashes of mordant wit and grace under fire,” says a review by the publisher.

Reviewers call her poems “visceral and raw”,  “unpolished.” These poems aren’t dull; they shine “pretty/with their ugliness”.

Youngest of four daughters

Rani was the youngest of four daughters of  Joe and Patria (Patty) Rivera. The family immigrated to Canada in 1986  and settled in Toronto. Like other immigrants before them, both struggled to find their place in a new world unlike what they left behind.

The family as seen in an article from The Manila Times Magazine in 2011.

Patty, a University of the Philippines graduate in Journalism, was Director for Information for the government’s National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). Joe was  vice president for human resources development of Integrated Microelectronics, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation.

Both could not find work in their own professions and Joe had to go back to school and became a lawyer. Patty became editor of Catholic Missions In Canada magazine and continued to write on the side.

From the bottom

”We were taking a huge risk, leaving the security of one’s homeland for the unknown contours of a new country. And so we did the immigrant thing: starting from the bottom and scraping our way up,” she told The Manila Times Magazine in an interview. 

“But we overcame these hurdles and got the required experience by starting at the bottom of the ladder. Fortunately, I was able to advance my career in journalism, a field close to my literary pursuits.

A “late bloomer”, Patty later published four books of poetry. Her first, Puti/White, published in 2005 was shortlisted for the Canadian Trillium Book Award for Poetry . The Bride Anthology (2007) followed and BE, released in 2011. The Time Between, her fourth poetry book, was released by Signature Editions in Spring 2018.

In writing about Rani’s death, Joe remembers her as a “tortured soul, ” struggling from elementary and high school. But she was a talented and brilliant child,” reading novels advanced for her age”, he recounts.

“We remembered she loved Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which she read more than a dozen times,”Joe wrote.

Rani dropped out of high school but took took a chance at a bridging program at the University of Toronto which she finished with flying colours. The university was impressed and offered her a scholarship.

In 2012, she was introduced and enrolled in a course by Toronto’s School for Social Entrepreneurship Program. She found work coordinating an out-of-school program for young children and youth.

Founded ‘Room’

Eventually, Rani would join Progress Place in Toronto, a recognized leader in psychosocial rehabilitation. After one year with Progress Place, she would assist in their community initiative in Weston-Mt. Dennis in developing a small clubhouse that offers health and recreational services to the community. She organized 20 service providers to offer over 50 programs directed at supporting those with mental illness.

Her former employer wrote that Rani was “prolific in getting community projects off the ground including founding Room, a consumer-survivor initiative helping young women between 16 and 30 years old who are living with mental health and/or addiction issues.

A sampling of Rani’s poetry:

“For an Hour or Always”

I love them

broken and beaten badly,

pock-marked and toothless,

spent and riddled with rue.

I love them lying

with sleep in their eyes,

the sunlight curdling

in sweet bellies

heaving with an unrest of a few

too many.

I love them motherless

and taunted. Violent

and entitled.

I love them on fire. I love them on ice.

I love them hairy and unclean.

Hearts pierced and sagging.

I love them old. I love them new.

I love them mean.

I love them talking and talking.

I love them destructed and

pinned with little needles,

smokestacks of inconstancy.

Nailed to the wall and stuck on

with glue.

I love them dancing, dancing…

On Rani and ALL VIOLET:

“A star student and sweet friend, Rani’s death hurts in a way only she could describe with beauty and grace: ‘I love them pretty/with their ugliness./I love them all violet/and blue.’

“Her love for the world courses through this powerful collection like a clean, clear river, bathing and purifying the poison and the pain she delineates with a razor, her uncanny mind.

“New to these poems, I wish her back to praise her, and instead, say goodbye again, knowing she has left behind a stunning legacy, one that will be returned to, again and again, by anyone who knows, to quote Theodore Roethke, ‘the purity of pure despair.’

“And to anyone who knows that life is wrenching and sublime, all at once: All night, she turned violet and blue, betrayed by the Earth’s roll into darkness, leaving behind fields of flowers, bigger than oceans, and kindness, and love.”

Lynn Crosbie, writer, professor and author of The Corpses of the Future.

Buy and read All Violet now. All proceeds from the publisher benefits Progress Place.