In Memoriam: Honouring Aurelia Tokaci’s remarkable legacy

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On June 14, 2014, Hamilton lost one of its tireless advocates in matters relating to immigration, settlement and equity, as Aurelia Tokaci passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. Aurelia was a cherished wife of Mihai (Mike) Samoila, loving mother of Ovidiu Groza (Tahra Moore) and Lidia-Madalina Ferre (Brandon), beloved grandmother of Kadence and Isabella.

Aurelia was also a great friend and mentor to many whom she worked with over the years in the non-profit sector, agencies and institutions throughout Hamilton, Ontario and Canada.  She was renowned for her intelligence, passion and energetic personality.

Most referred to Aurelia as a “grant-writing expert” due to her acute skill in not only writing grant applications and project proposals, but her vast knowledge and expertise within the immigrant and refugee resettlement sector. Aurelia worked for over a decade at the now defunct Settlement and Immigration Services Organization (SISO). At the time of her passing, she was the Manager of Employment Services at YWCA Hamilton.

Personally, I will always fondly remember Aurelia as a tenacious, brilliant and hard-working professional woman, who lived life to the fullest. Aurelia was a part of many special moments in my life, sharing in my birthday celebrations and my daughter’s baptism. Most recently, at Illuminessence’s 1st Annual Awards Gala.

Aurelia was always the ray of light at the party and her laugh could lift up the saddest of hearts. She was always willing to mentor and assist in both my personal and professional growth, for which I will remain eternally grateful. Aurelia’s sudden passing reminded me that one should never keep for tomorrow, what can be accomplished today.

During my last conversation with Aurelia at her celebration of life dinner, we discussed her upcoming legacy feature in Illuminessence, which was a year overdue, as a result of our scheduling constraints. I emailed Aurelia shortly after, but unfortunately it was too late, as she was already too ill to conduct an interview.

The sadness of her not knowing the depth of my appreciation and admiration for her will forever linger in my heart. My only comfort lies in the fact that every time I saw her, emailed or spoke to her, I expressed my appreciation to her. I hope she knew that. Rest in peace, Aurelia.

Friends and colleagues at YWCA Hamilton share their fondest memories of Aurelia

  • The sound of Aurelia’s footsteps coming down the hall, as well as her keys jiggling as she walked.
  • Her smoke breaks outside where many confidential/sensitive discussions took place.
  • Her open door policy for her office and home.
  • Aurelia always had multiple projects on the go, both professionally and personally.
  • Her soft heart to help others, very compassionate, which not everyone could see.
  • Always in control of everything around her.
  • Bright and intelligent
  • You always knew when she was around-her laugh could be heard and recognized from quite a distance.
  • She loved a party-for any reason
  • The most amazing suits, and shoes, usually purchased when she went to the states.




May-Marie is driven by passion and purpose to tirelessly promote social change, diversity, equity and women's empowerment in both her personal and professional endeavours.