Joyce Carter, advocate for veterans, widows, dies at 90

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Joyce Carter, advocate for veterans, widows, dies at 90

Post by Trooper on Fri 26 Jan 2018, 8:54 am

Carter wrote scores of letters to politicians and once confronted Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill

By Wendy Martin, CBC News --- Posted: Jan 26, 2018

Joyce Carter was a war bride turned veterans advocate. She died on Jan. 21 at the age of 90. (Port Hawkesbury Reporter)

Joyce Carter came late to the political stage.

But the war bride, who campaigned tirelessly on behalf of veterans and their widows, left her mark on the political scene.

Carter, who lived in Sampsonville, Richmond County, died this week at 90.

She became politically active after her husband, Murdock, died in 2000.

A year later, she lost access to the Veterans Independence Program, which covered such costs as snow shovelling and house cleaning. Benefits were extended to widows for only one year after their husbands died.

Prolific letter writer

Carter started writing lengthy letters to politicians, much to the amazement of her family.

"She was more of a 'don't make waves' person," said her granddaughter, Vickie Carter. "This surprised us when she started very publicly fighting for this. And she wasn't taking no for an answer. We're very proud of her."

Carter won a partial victory in 2004, when Prime Minister Paul Martin extended the VIP benefits to widows who had lost their husbands since 1990, which included Carter.

But she continued her fight to have the benefits extended to those whose husbands had died prior to that date.

Carter was an advocate for veterans and widows of veterans. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

In June 2007, she travelled to Parliament Hill, where she confronted Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In view of reporters and photographers, she asked Harper to fulfil a promise to extend the program to all veterans' widows.

"I just started telling him he told me a lie, and he should keep his promise about this VIP," Carter later told the CBC. "It can't go on any longer."

Gracious and courteous

"She didn't hold back. She let him have it," recalled Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner, who helped arrange Carter's trip to Ottawa.

Cuzner received his fair share of letters from Carter over the years, and says Cape Breton has lost a passionate advocate.

"Very gracious and very courteous," said Cuzner. "Her opinion and her work over the years was respected, and it was known far beyond the borders of St. Peter's and Richmond County."

As recently as 2014, Carter was campaigning against the closure of several Veterans Affairs offices in communities across Canada.

"Sad but true, since the Conservatives have been in power for eight years they have turned a deaf ear to the needs of veterans who have been treated badly by the government they willingly fought for," Carter wrote in the Inverness Oran. "Veterans Affairs offices were closed at the expense of veterans and should definitely be reopened immediately."

Trusty typewriter

Carter continued writing letters until about two years ago, when her eyesight began to fail.

To the end, she insisted on using her trusty typewriter.

"We had arranged a computer for her," said Vickie Carter. "I tried to show her how to use it so she could use that for writing her letters, and in the end she told me, 'Come and get it. I'm going back to the typewriter.'"

As a final act of generosity, her obituary notes, Carter donated her body to medical science.

Joyce Carter died Jan. 21.


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