Gordon Stringer used to be cynical about politicians.
But after working with several Ontario MPPs for the past five years to pass concussion safety legislation called Rowan's Law, that cynicism has faded away.
On March 6, Ontario passed the law, which will help protect amateur athletes and educate coaches about the dangers of head injuries.
It's named in memory of Stringer's late daughter, Rowan Stringer, who died in 2013 at the age of 17 after suffering several rugby injuries in Ottawa.
Since then, alongside his wife Kathleen, Stringer has pushed for the recommendations of a coroner's report to become law. And he was there at Queen's Park earlier this month when it finally happened.
"It was really almost surreal because it's been such a long road to get there, but at the same time it was a very happy occasion. [I feel] relief that it finally happened. But it really did open doors to more work that needs to be done," Stringer says.
"When all the parties stood up in the legislature to support this, that was a pretty significant moment," he adds, his voice breaking.
'We're very pleased that Ontario has taken the lead in concussion awareness and prevention through Rowan's Law, and we hope the rest of Canada will follow suit.' -Gordon Stringer
As for coping with his daughter's death, Stringer says it won't ever get easy. But the work he's done has helped.
"Healing takes time and I don't think it's ever going to fully heal, but for myself, what I'm doing and what I'm advocating for, it's helping me on that journey.... It really is part of Rowan's legacy," Stringer says.
"I personally didn't see a trailblazer aspect to it. I was just doing what I needed to do as a father, as a parent. To be recognized for it, though, it's pretty special to know that someone in the community has thought highly enough of it that they put my name forward."
For Stringer, the best recognition has been hearing from complete strangers that the increased awareness he's fostered has helped them.
He hopes now that more provinces will enact similar legislation.
"We're very pleased that Ontario has taken the lead in concussion awareness and prevention through Rowan's Law, and we hope the rest of Canada will follow suit."
Trailblazers is a community connection project that tells stories about people making an impact in the Ottawa area. We received hundreds of submissions and a panel of judges helped select our top 10.