When she’s not busy hosting Cityline — Canada’s longest running daytime show for women — Tracy Moore finds time to giveback to her community, with a particular focus on programs that fund youth in need. A committed supporter of the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Recognition Night, Moore will be returning once again to host the evening in celebration of academic achievements, a role that she continues to draw great inspiration from.
Prior to her upcoming role at Recognition Night, we had the opportunity to chat with Moore regarding her investment in vulnerable kids and education. Read it below:
Children’s Aid Foundation: For another year, you’ll be hosting Recognition Night. What has that hosting experience been like for you?
Tracy Moore: Hosting Recognition Night is always an eye-opener and it’s always a story of great accomplishments. To see so many students that have been through things I would never wish on my children, and to see them succeeding and getting scholarships… I have goose bumps the entire night, I feel like they’re all part of my family. The first time I hosted the show I didn’t realize that it would affect me so much, and that’s why I keep coming back.
CAF: In your opinion, what’s the best thing about meeting the students at Recognition Night?
TM: I like that there’s not a lot of victimization happening. It’s incredible to hear the things they’ve been through; I will have spontaneous conversations with many of the students there and we’ll get right into it pretty quickly – the amount of foster homes they were part of, the group homes, how horrific it was – and there isn’t a sense of victimization or regret, it’s more like ‘this is my story, this is what I went through, and this where I am now’ – it’s phenomenal.
CAF: What has education meant in your life?
TM: Education has always been huge with my parents. As Jamaican immigrants, they always put a really high priority on education; they never had rules like if you go to post-secondary, you have to pay, they always knew they were going to save-up money and that is what was expected. So, I went through elementary school and high school, always having the support of my parents. Now, they weren’t sitting there helping me do homework like we do now; they were interested in what the curriculum was, they read newspapers, they read books, there was always this real love of learning in my house, and school was always the number one priority. Even when I would be in the kitchen watching my mom cook, she’d say ‘don’t worry about cooking, go and study’. Even if there were toilets to be cleaned, because we all had chores on Saturday, if there was homework to be done, it would be ‘forget the chores, go study’. And when I wanted to go to school out of province, my father wasn’t thrilled about it, but they understood that it was a good school. I wanted to pursue a political science program that offered one of the best programs in the country, and they supported me and allowed me to do that. The message for me was always that school comes first; that’s going to be your opportunity to succeed in life because education is a huge equalizer.
CAF: I understand your husband went through a difficult childhood, which has made you feel more closely connected with the Foundation. Can you elaborate?
TM: My husband grew-up in a situation where he was born in Haiti but adopted by French Canadians in rural Québec when he was three-years-old. His adoptive mother was actually his biological aunt; she met a Québécois man while he was on vacation in Haiti, they got married, they adopted [my husband] Lio, and they brought him to Québec. His entire adoptive family was white except for his adoptive mother. His adoptive mother had mental health issues, and while his adoptive father was alive things were somewhat in check, although she would beat him from time to time. As soon as his father died in a [factory] accident when Lio was about eight-years-old, his entire life turned upside-down. A mentally ill woman was responsible for him, they lived in poverty; he never knew which mother he’d be coming home to after school, if she’d be in a good mood or if she’d beat him. And then when he was 12, his mother just left home and abandoned him without saying anything. But [despite this] he thrived. He was raised by his adoptive grandmother, [although] with some racism and discrimination. He decided at 17 or 18 to go away to university in Québec and then decided he needed to learn English, and he enrolled in a Master’s program at Carleton University without knowing any English. He got his Masters in Journalism, and I kid you not, his mastery of the English language is better than mine. He built the life for himself that he always wanted.
CAF: Why is it important for us, as a society, to invest in vulnerable youth?
TM: Because otherwise, why are we here? We can all achieve great success if we have the support of our parents and finances and resources, but what about everybody who doesn’t? It was never my husband’s fault that he ended-up in those circumstances. We have to help because I don’t think there’s any other point in being here. If you can’t share the wealth, if you can’t give a hand to someone in need, then I don’t see what the point is in getting ahead and achieving anything. I think we’re only as strong as the weakest person. And, when I see these students at Recognition Night, I see my husband in all of them. They’re pursuing it against the odds.
CAF: What message would you like to give to our scholarship recipients?
TM: I want them to know that they have put forth a Herculean effort and for all the times they’ve questioned themselves and thought ‘do I keep going’, the fact that they did indicates that they’re very special human beings and the sky is the limit. They have pushed against the sort of adversity that most people don’t even want to hear about, and they have achieved incredible things. Kids that come from having all the resources in the world are not achieving what they’re achieving, so I want them to feel proud and understand the magnitude of what they’ve accomplished.
CAF: Anything else to add?
TM: I will always have a place in my heart for anything that’s grassroots. I often lend my time to huge organizations that have millions of dollars in funding, but at the end of the day, things that are grassroots and programs that help youth will always have a special place in my heart because I see what the formative years mean. I see what the difference is between having a family like the one I was raised in and having a family like the one Lio was raised in. There was a lot of healing after going through what he went through. Those formative years are the most important years.