Indigenous comedian Candy Palmater dies at 53
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Ask anyone who knew actress, comedian and presenter Candy Palmater: When she walked into a room, her unique fun and unique personality filled her.
This is how Palmater’s family and colleagues remember her after her partner, Denise Tompkins, announced she died on Saturday at the age of 53.
“Her smile could light up a room and whatever kind of day I might have had, as soon as I got to see my Candy it was immediately better,” said hairstylist Connor Lange, who is became a close friend of Palmater after she sat in his chair in the living room where he worked.
“Candy was amazing. The way she viewed life, every day… she lived to the fullest while being able to slow down and enjoy all the little things she loves so much,” Lange told CTV News.
Born in New Brunswick and raised by her father Mi’kmaw and her white mother, Palmater attended Dalhousie Law School in Halifax and became the first senior aboriginal law student.
She then gave up her legal career and went to work for the Nova Scotia Department of Education, focusing on the need for Mi’kmaw culture and teachings in the province, before eventually becoming a comedian.
Current APTN CEO Monika Ille was the network’s director of programming in Eastern Canada in 2009, when she received a VHS tape from Palmater doing stand-up. At the time, Palmater was hosting his own comedy variety show.
“I have to say I fell in love with Candy when I saw her. She was so good, sharing her story. She was funny, brilliant. She looked good in front of the camera,” said Ille.
Palmater’s pitch became “The Candy Show,” which aired for five seasons on APTN.
“She had that motivation. She had this passion. She had this larger than life personality and she wanted to make sure the voices of the people were heard, especially the indigenous peoples, ”said Ille.
As her fame grew, she hosted “The Candy Palmater Show” on CBC Radio One and became a regular host on CTV social.
“When I think of Candy, she was… larger than life, eternally sunny, infinitely kind and always joyfully led,” Melissa Grelo, co-host of The Social, told CTV News.
“Candy was a natural storyteller and would share so perfectly and easily some of the most difficult things she had ever experienced in life, and yet, would still be able to see the other side of things — the lessons that were. learned and how that makes her a stronger person. “
A true pioneer of feminism, Palmater changed perceptions of what it meant to be gay, to love and accept yourself. Last year, she also worked with Vancouver filmmaker Shana Myra on “Well Rounded,” a documentary that tackles fatphobia.
“Her daring and her voice, really, I think, gives courage to others. And that was part of her stated comedy philosophy. She really wanted to use her humor for good,” Myara told CTV News.
According to social media, Palmater had been ill for months and diagnosed with EGPA, a rare condition that causes inflammation of blood vessels.
Lange was with her during her last days in the hospital. He said that even then she had the same brilliant mind that Canadians have grown to love.
“Every day when I walked into that hospital room, she greeted me with her huge smile,” Lange said.
“She was just beautiful and strong and fearless every day and I think that’s something we can really learn from her.”
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