WATCH ABOVE: Jim Prentice’s daughter Cassia thanks Canadians for their outpouring of support as she and her family try to cope with the loss
By Melissa Gilligan and Erika Tucker – Global News
A state memorial for Jim Prentice, the former Alberta premier who was killed in a plane crash in B.C. earlier this month, was underway at Calgary’s Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Friday morning. There were 700 invited guests and 800 members of the public in attendance.
Prentice’s daughter Cassia thanked Canadians for their outpouring of support as she and her family try to cope with the loss.
“As you have stood from coast to coast in observance of moments of silence, you have shared the weight of the emptiness that bears down upon our hearts,” she said.
“My father was so much to so many and he was absolutely everything to our family.”
Watch below: Jason Hatcher, Master of Ceremonies, opens the state memorial for Jim Prentice
Cassia spoke of her father-in-law, Dr. Ken Gellatly, who also died in the plane crash.
“His boundless energy and joy for life found its perfect match in my father. Our family will forever treasure the memories of their laughter in what we could not have known would be their final days.”
Cassia described her father’s love for his family and his impact on Albertans and Canadians.
“We know that we do not grieve alone. Broken and shattered, we must all today stand tall on the foundations that he laid: integrity, kindness, hard work and community. But most importantly, the love of family.”
The public memorial opened with an aboriginal honour song performed by members of the Black Otter Singers.
Watch below: Members of the Siksika Nation perform an Aboriginal Honour Song at the state memorial for Jim Prentice.
Alberta Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell was one of the first to speak, remembering Prentice as “a great Albertan and a great Canadian.”
“He always had that ability to see the very best in people around him,” Mitchell said.
“He had the rare ability to talk to anyone… He was a trusted and a valued friend; a source of kindness and thoughtfulness.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley spoke next, highlighting Prentice’s accomplishments in office including restoring respect between government and indigenous peoples and creating the first version of the child benefit plan.
“I’m grateful for the friendly, thoughtful advice he shared with me,” Notley said, remembering him as a “talented, dedicated leader and brilliant public servant.”
Former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper also presented a tribute, looking back on Prentice’s personal and political life—as well as the strength he brought as a player on the Conservative Party hockey team.
“That kind of bench strength really came to the fore when we became the government of Canada,” Harper said, highlighting Prentice’s role in finalizing and implementing the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
“We gave the hardest assignments to the people best able to handle them and Jim is one of those people.”
Watch below: Former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper speaks about Jim Prentice at the state memorial for the former Alberta premier
Harper quoted Stockwell Day’s assessment of Prentice, that “when Jim won, he didn’t gloat. When he lost, he didn’t pout.” The former prime minister also told a story about sending Prentice to the U.S. upon President Barack Obama’s request for someone to look at energy and environment issues.
“I said, ‘I think you guys will like him. He’s probably the most capable guy that I’ve got,’” Harper said. “To which Barack said: ‘That’s great Stephen, I promise not to tell your other guys you said that.’”
“He always gave Canada and Alberta his very best. That is how he deserves to be remembered.”
Prentice, 60, and Gellatly were on board on a Cessna Citation that went down on Oct. 13 shortly after taking off from Kelowna. The crash also took the lives of friend Sheldon Reid and pilot Jim Kruk.
Prentice was Alberta’s 16th premier but held the position for less than eight months. He served until May 24, 2015.
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Karen, three daughters and two grandchildren.
Following the memorial, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he gets to meet a lot of people in politics, but was impressed by how Prentice was driven by a “deep love for community.”
“A man devoted to his family, an incredibly loyal friend but also a man who sacrificed everything for community,” Nenshi said. “I think that’s something we can all honour today.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall expressed his sympathies to Prentice’s family and the people of Alberta.
“Alberta’s like our twin in Confederation,” Wall said. “What’s good for Alberta is good for Saskatchewan and what causes sadness and difficulty for Alberta causes us that same sadness.
“It’s a loss to Western Canada and it’s a loss to our country.”
The province’s interim Progressive Conservative leader Ric McIver was emotional when he spoke to reporters.
“Jim Prentice accomplished a great deal in his shortened life and we all owe a debt to him in one way or another,” he said. “The greatest thing that I saw during the time I knew Jim was his unquenchable thirst to bring people together for a common good.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be directed to the Children’s Cottage Society. Donations can be made online at 2115.thankyou4caring.org or by cheques mailed to 204, 2120 Kensington Road NW Calgary T2N 3R7.
An online tribute page will also be available until Nov. 1.
Shaw TV will rebroadcast the Prentice memorial on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
BELOW: View the program for the State Memorial for former Alberta premier Jim Prentice