Sarah Cormier has been selected by the airdrielife editorial team as the recipient of the 2019 Pureform Amazing Courage Award which is also known as the Tracy Work Memorial Award, named after one of our first year nominees.
Sarah Cormier is certainly an Amazing Woman. Her ability to rise above the tragic loss of her infant daughter to assist and advocate for others is truly inspiring.
Quinn was born in August 2014. The beautiful little girl filled her family with joy, but she tragically died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when she was just four months and 10 days old.
As if dealing with the intense grief wasn’t enough, Cormier was also faced with financial concerns when she learned her maternity benefits had been cut off within a week of Quinn’s death.
Cormier was devastated by the loss and didn’t have the proper time to grieve before being expected back at work.
“We thought it was an oversight, but it has been law since maternity benefits existed in Canada,” she says of the benefits being cut off. “Moms don’t get to take the time to grieve, and have to return to work. Some people even have to pay back their benefits.”
Instead of wallowing in grief, Cormier decided changes needed to be made and became an advocate for the approximately 1,000 families who lose their infant children each year.
Cormier founded Quinn’s Legacy Run Society in June 2015 to raise funds to help families who have suffered the loss of their child.
The Cormiers put on the fourth annual Quinn’s Legacy Run in August 2018. Each year, the event helps local families take the time to grieve by providing a one-time financial payment to reduce their financial stress.
But Cormier didn’t stop at helping local families; she and her husband approached Blake Richards, Banff-Airdrie Member of Parliament, to see if changes could be made to the federal rules governing maternity benefits.
Right from the start, Richards was on board.
“I was shocked,” says Richards of finding out benefits were cut off so soon after an infant’s death. “There was a problem, and I wanted it fixed.”
Richards embraced the cause and tabled his private member’s bill, with the goal of providing 12 weeks of bereavement leave for parents who lose their children.
Motion 110 was passed June 8, 2018, meaning the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) was mandated to study the problem.
The study, during which members heard from experts and parents who have suffered the loss of a child, is now complete and HUMA is preparing a report, which will be presented in Parliament. Richards is hopeful for changes to the legislation, which will support grieving parents, to be made sometime this year.
Richards says that after he introduced the private member’s bill, he heard from parents from all across Canada suffering similar losses and financial stresses.
He is impressed with Cormier’s willingness to bring up the pain of her child’s passing for the greater good, explaining she has had to share her painful story numerous times while championing the bill.
“The thing that strikes me about Sarah is her courage,” he says. “Anyone who is a parent can only imagine how hard it was for her to lose her child, but she chooses to take that grief and turn it into something good. That takes incredible courage.”
Cormier is happy that Quinn’s name won’t be forgotten.
“It is surreal, hearing what we started,” says Cormier. “It is our way of parenting Quinn and making her part of our family. We want her to be remembered.”
Kiera Gosse nominated Cormier for an award, calling her “incredible.”
“She is such a kindhearted, wonderful soul who is living her life with passion, even though grief is still a huge part of her,” says Gosse.