She was with us for only a short time, but her legacy will live on in the babies she helped save from abortion through her crisis pregnancy work, as well as in the numerous other accomplishments she achieved in helping those who could not help themselves.
Tina Arruda died on Good Friday at the age of 38 after a battle with cancer. Born on Christmas Day 1965, she had distinguished herself toward the end of her life with a period of front-line pro-life work as a crisis pregnancy counsellor at the Aid to Women agency in Toronto. That often meant dodging pro-abortionists, sheriff’s officers and police as she toiled right beside a bubble-zone-protected abortuary in the Cabbagetown district of Canada’s largest city.
“She had a heart for the work,” said Aid to Women director Joanne Dieleman. “She was a very, very nice woman.” Dieleman recalled how she tried to contain Arruda in the office when the eager young woman first came to volunteer, but it wasn’t long before her new charge “snuck outside” to work where the action was.
Fellow Aid to Women counsellor Robert Hinchey said he remembered Arruda’s courage in the face of harassment from opponents and overzealous law enforcement authorities.
“Nothing deterred her,” he said, remembering one “impossible” case he had to deal with in which he was sure the woman would go through with an abortion. However, after counselling from Arruda, the woman changed her mind and went on to have her baby.
Hinchey also pointed to Arruda’s warm, cheerful and loving nature, which was inspired by a strong Christian faith. “Many more babies were saved than if I had been out there alone,” he said.
Dozens of Arruda’s friends, family and co-workers gathered at the national headquarters of Campaign Life Coalition in Toronto on April 26 for a memorial mass service and further tributes.
“She was very joyful and cheerful,” said Nadia Gahagnon, a CLC employee who rented out part of her home to Arruda while the latter was working with Aid to Women. “I like people like that in my home. She brought sunshine, fun and laughter. Why did she have to leave us so soon?”
Gahagnon recalled Arruda’s efforts in helping to convince another boarder at her home to continue with a pregnancy after she first leaned toward ending it. The woman also underwent a change from a drinking and carousing lifestyle to one with more responsible behaviour, thanks to Arruda’s influence.
Close friend Angie Flint said Arruda was “the most fearless human being I’ve come across” and said she never laughed as hard as she had with her. “I’ll always remember the laughter and friendship she gave to me.”
Arruda’s sister, Maria, also cited Tina’s love of life and energy, and said she never had a bad word to say about anyone. She said her sister’s love of life and children were cultivated from her love of three nephews and a niece, whom she was very close to.
“She was like a little kid,” said Maria. “She’ll be deeply missed by everyone.”
Arruda had studied media writing at Seneca College in Greater Toronto and went on to work as a music promoter for a number of years with the A&M record company, before getting involved in pro-life work in a more intimate way.
She worked in the Yesterday’s Treasures second-hand clothing store in London, Ont., which raised funds for the pro-life cause. She also served as president of that city’s chapter of Campaign Life Coalition, as well as a board member of the London Area Right to Life Association. She still found time to help with the St. Francis and St. Claire Homes, a ministry serving the homeless, before heading to Toronto for more pro-life work there.
Her body was taken back to her hometown of Sarnia, Ont. for a funeral service and entombment at Our Lady of Mercy Mausoleum on April 17. Predeaceased by her mother Dialina, she is survived by her father Evaristo, sister Maria and brother Tony.