Emil and Lynette Hain

Lynette and Emil
Lynette and Emil dine in Paris, 2005

Je me souviens

Emil Hain hears the familiar rustle of the mail being pushed through his door and stoops to collect it from the mat. Among the usual bills and flyers, there’s a large brown envelope from the university. Inside, he discovers letters from five students in the French program.

“I have loved the French language ever since I began learning it in elementary school…Now that I am in university I have the opportunity to study in Paris for a few weeks…I am greatly looking forward to the cultural experience…”

“I am extremely excited about the upcoming trip and about all the memories that I will get and will cherish for many years to come. Thank you so much!”

“This April, when I received the news that the scholarship had been awarded, it was difficult to conceal the joy and gratitude that I felt. To me, French is not only a means of communication… but an open door to another world: participating in the Paris Field School is the opportunity of a lifetime… It is my heartfelt intent to do the memory of Mrs. Hain justice.”

Emil places the letters down on the table and pulls out a handkerchief to catch the tears pooling in the corners of his eyes. He’s transported back to the six weeks he spent in France with his wife in 2005.

The French Experience

Lynette was so excited to visit places she’d read about, dine in a Michelin three-starred restaurant, and absorb the country’s culture and language first-hand. But she was frustrated by her limited French. As soon as she returned from the trip she bought her first computer and enrolled in French courses at the university. For the next four years she studied just as hard as the rest of her class, maybe harder, savouring the opportunity to fulfil a long-held goal. 

Five years after their holiday together, Lynne returned to France with her class mates. Her joy at being able to communicate in French was tinged with sadness. She knew it would be her last trip overseas. After 16 years of her body being a battlefield, cancer was winning the fight. She died in 2015.

Opportunities of a lifetime

A chance meeting had brought Lynette into Emil’s life in 1975 and the University of Victoria was a highlight of their shared lives. They would take walks on campus and enjoy concerts, varsity games and lectures. As a way of remembering Lynne after her death, Emil made a gift to the university to support students wanting to learn in France. 

Lynette was the absolute love of Emil’s life. As he sits in the home they shared together, he imagines the joy these letters would bring to Lynne’s heart. He’s heartened by the knowledge that this award in Lynette’s name will go on helping students have the French experience she cherished for many years to come.