I have put off sharing these thoughts, partly because Silvia’s presence is still so alive. She would fill a house with her energy. It’s hard to believe she will no longer be returning to Toronto, and that it has been two years since she passed away in December, 2020.

She was spiritual and intellectual, but she also embraced the physicality of life. Free from the self-consciousness that inhibit so many, she liked to have fun, even while dressed in her habit.

When we were planning an event at the Revue Cinema with jazz musician Jane Bunnett, who has embraced Afro-Cuban music, Silvia jumped in to help. She contacted an acquaintance with a Cuban grocery store on Vaughan Rd. The result: Cuban food and drink to set the cultural scene for two documentary films and a musical performance. And where was Silvia while the band was playing? Up at the front of the theatre, the only person to be dancing in the aisle! A Cuban has to dance, she said.

She enjoyed food and wine, always interested in new ingredients. While staying at my house at one point, she sent away immediately for the ancient grain teff, as soon as she heard about it. She savoured and was enthusiastic about the simplest of foods — an omelette, a basic homemade salad dressing. She also shared an invaluable food tip — put avocados in the fridge to stop the ripening process.

I remember sitting much longer than we should have at the back of La Cubana restaurant on Roncesvalles Ave., sharing bocaditos, consuming Chilean wine, reminiscing about past relationships and talking about future hopes and her ambitious plans. Silvia never did things by half measure.  

While at my house for a number of months, she prepared for a move to Cuba and a project she envisioned. The boxes piled up as she accumulated a wide range of items: reading glasses, bedding, children’s art supplies, over-the-counter medications, clothing, a yoga mat, toiletries, shoes, a walker, etc., etc. And, somehow, she managed to get all of those things to her destination with a minimum of shipping charges.
Silvia had courage, and her wide-ranging career reflects that. She risked her health for her charitable ideals; she put her trust in people, often to be disappointed; she let herself feel things deeply, often painfully.  Silvia accepted vulnerability, and, perhaps, that was the main reason she was able to accomplish so much.

— Ellen Moorhouse