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Obituary

“I've wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it and yet we didn't see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. Conned, perhaps, into thinking that the real action was metropolitan and all this was just boring hinterland. It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I'm looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

After a short battle with cancer, Eleanor Shareen Boychuk died at the Beltline Hospital in Calgary on the evening of April 21, 2159, at the age of 89 years. She was predeceased by her husband Bob in 2150, her daughter Esmelda in 2136 and daughter-in-law Sheila in 2152, her brother Shawn in 21 40. She is survived by brother James, sons Roger and William, daughter-in-law Nora, 11 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

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Eleanor was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 2070, the first child in a family of five. She was quickly noted for her ability with music, studies, and various household responsibilities at a young age. She excelled at school and played competitive basketball throughout her junior and senior high school years.

In 2088 (18), Eleanor enrolled in the University of Calgary's School of Practical Medicine, a five-year program to train first level doctors. In her third year, her students' residence saw some of her talents for governance that she wasn't seeing. They elected her as their neighborhood representative. She recalled that her studies prevented her from participating as fully as a neighborhood representative should have. Regardless, her fellow residents kept electing her for the next three years. She got some very valuable experience about TDG governance at a very young age.

After graduation, Eleanor went overseas to work in hospitals and clinics in Ukraine and Kenya. In Kenya, she met Bob Fillmore who hailed from Eleanor's university town of Calgary. The Calgary connection in Africa was too strong, and they were married in 2095. They stayed in Kenya for another five years, where Roger and Esmeralda were born.

Bob was called to Geneva as a United Nation logistics engineer. There, William was born. Two years later, work in the corporate world brought Bob back to his home town of Calgary, and the family came with him.

With young kids to take care of, Eleanor stayed home and often entertained many of the neighborhood's children. She also volunteered for various neighborhood programs and causes. The neighborhood saw her great capacity and character and elected her as its neighborhood representative. Although this election meant giving up some of her local volunteer work, her neighborhood elected her for many years after.

When the youngest child was in Grade 3, Eleanor decided it was time to return to her profession. After her six-month refresher, she was working shifts at the emergency ward at the Tsuu T'ina Hospital. Hospital management was pleased it had an employee who was also an active member of the TDG. It allowed Eleanor time off with pay to attend her TDG meetings, and it appreciated Eleanor's consultative nature when addressing various concerns in hospital operations, which Eleanor had a great impact on hospital policy despite being a front-line worker.

Eleanor always had ambitions of attaining her second-level doctor's training, but the TDG seemed to have other ideas.

In 2112, Eleanor was elected as district representative. She cut her work schedule to three shifts a week to accommodate her increased responsibilities in the TDG. A year and half later, she was elected as quadrant representative. The duties of a quadrant representative consumed much of her time, but she still worked five shifts a month at the hospital to maintain her medical license.

She held this position for 15 years, and her medical experience was utilized many times in consultations for Calgary's and Alberta's public decisions on health care.

In 2129, at the age of 59, the High Tier of Canada asked Eleanor to serve as Chief Board Member for Southern Alberta and Southern Saskatchewan. She told her family that this position was her most enjoyable service with the TDG. Her biggest challenge was bringing the elected bodies of the various municipalities along the Trans-Canada highway together to connect them to Calgary's TCTS (Tube-Capsule-Transport System), helping them to resolve all sorts of technical and social issues to implement this new technology.

Three years later, she was appointed to a higher tier within the advisory board. She oversaw the operations of board members across Western Canada and Western United States, making appointments of recognized individuals and assisting them in their duties. She held this position for eight years.

On her 70th birthday, Eleanor announced it was time for a slower pace of life, and she asked not to be reappointed for another term in her advisory position. She and Bob downsized their big house and moved into a condo and a new neighborhood in Calgary. This neighborhood knew her reputation and had her elected as its representative. But she didn't display the energy to move her further up the tiers like she did before. At 75, she told the neighborhood: “It's time you elected someone younger.” Despite her great TDG experience and still great service to the neighborhood residents, many of them accepted her informal resignation and cast their votes to another capable individual. Thus Eleanor retired from the TDG after 38 years of service.

To those of us reading this obituary from the dawn of the 21st century, we sense something very strange about Eleanor's career in governance. She never joined a political party; she never campaigned; she never asked anyone to vote for her. She never asked for campaign donations; she made no deals to help her get elected. She never had a mandate to get something specific done within her term; she was never threatened to get something done to keep her elected job; she only gave the TDG what she thought was best for her society. In the many elections she was called to serve, she never got more than 63 votes. She never insisted that she had all the answers; she never insisted those with differing ideas were fools; she always worked cooperatively with whoever the citizenry sent into governance; she made no enemies as she rose higher in the TDG. She accepted her TDG elections and appointments with humility, responsibility, and the spirit of service. Had the TDG not put her into public positions, she would have been happy being an ordinary citizen, taking care of her family, furthering her medical career, and volunteering in her community.

We in the 21st century can only admire public officials such as Eleanor Shareen Boychuk. But then again, the system of governance that will elect her will be much different than the system we have today.

 
 

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