Lorna Marie Hawkins was born May 28, 1971, in St Mary, Jamaica to mother Ina Joy Forrest who died when Hawkins was 7 years old. Hawkins beloved grandmother Violet Maude Forrest McDonald who raised her died when Hawkins was 14 years old. Hawkins left her native parish of St Mary to live in St Catherine with her aunt and cousins, then in 1987 immigrated to Toronto Canada to live with another extended family.
Hawkins, barely 15 years old was saddled with the obligations and stresses of adapting to a new country, the onset of abuses of sexual molestations, degrading treatments from family members, teachers and strangers.
Hawkins was shamed for the horrid actions of her assailants and dubbed “TROUBLE MAKER” for attempting to shed light on the incestuous activities within the family. Hawkins had the heart of a saint and the soul of an innocent child, but there was an undercurrent of anger and hurt which made her contemplate committing suicide. As Hawkins was accustomed to, luck was not always on her side. There was no escaping the depression and low self-esteem that plagues her mind when the emotional abuse began, breaking her spirits and caused her life to spiral out of control.
The November month was brutally cold and so was the treatment she continued to receive from the family members that she loved and trusted. Hawkins faced the challenges of her life fiercely and made several bad choices but they were life’s biggest lessons.
Winter of 1989 less than years after coming to Canada “The Land of Milk and Honey” and a country where Immigrants gets economic opportunity was the” Motto”, she found herself homeless and living in Covenant House for homeless youths. Hawkins lived there for 4 months then moved temporarily with her cousin and her children then moved into a room with a shared kitchen and washroom.
In the summer of 1990, she met Hubert Cumbermack, (Jessie) quickly fell in love, and moved in together. Eventually, they had one daughter named Isha and engaged but never married. The relationship was very tumultuous and the abuses that Hawkins experienced as a child and adolescence spilt over into their relationship forcing her to flee for her and her daughter’s safety to a Shelter in Toronto. One year later, Hawkins and Cumbermack, (Jessie) reconciled and began living together again, then they had a second daughter named Tashana. Their relationship dissolved a few years afterwards due to irreconcilable differences.
Hawkins single-handedly raised her two beautiful daughters with the assistance of Social Assistance, Government Housing, Day-care Centres, and Child Tax Credit, her part-time with Bell Mobility doing hairdressing and selling clothes from her apartment.
Hawkins eventually quit her job at Bell Mobility and obtained her High School Diploma then went to Humber College for an upgrade in English and Maths. Hawkins completed her post-secondary education in the field of Accounting, worked with CIBC and Bell Canada for 12 years, and volunteered at the Neighbourhood’s Community Centre as a Cook, Events Planning Assistant and Life skill coach. Hawkins assisted with the Community Garden and Kitchen duties, developed, and implemented a Dance, Nutrition, Life skill and Excursion Program for At-Risk Girls who lived in the Neighbourhood.
Continuing her education, Hawkins obtained a diploma from Centennial College in Food and Nutrition Management. She worked in several Shelters for Abused Women and Children for 15 years as a Chef, Nutritionist, and Counsellor. She has also worked for Community Centres with Young Mother and Children teaching Life skills, Fitness, Culinary, Budgeting, and Nutrition
Amid her outward accomplishments and accolade, Hawkins battled with low self-esteem, promiscuity and post-traumatic stress disorder that stemmed from many years of emotional, physical, psychological and financial abuses, rape, abandonment, poverty, racism, incest, heartbreaks, gambling, depression, childhood trauma and the demands of single parenthood.
Hawkins faced marginalization and the entire ism you can imagine. However, most often than not, she managed to overcome them as she got older, wiser and educated.
Though Hawkins did not have any connections with her mother and father she learned parenting skills by instincts, parent and child drop-in program in and around GTA. Hawkins is praised and admired by those who knew her personally and professionally for overcoming many other obstacles, keeping her nose and her records clean and repositioned herself for the betterment of herself and her daughters Isha and Tashana Cumbermack
Hawkins never stops working hard towards her goal of becoming the woman she envisioned herself to be. Expeditiously and without delay, her personal growth and development, outgoing nature, kind-hearted demeanour, love for children and people in general, she made and maintained a close-net of good friends and Allies
Kid her not, Hawkins is one determined young woman, whatever she put her mind to she always achieve them come hell or high water.
Hawkins was triumphant in her life’s endeavours, but as the law of nature would have it there were always highs and lows. As the world turns, so does the joys and turbulent times in Hawkins’s life. In 2009, Hawkins called 911 for help when she began to experience extreme episodes of suicidal thoughts. She spent two weeks in the psychiatric ward where she underwent treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In the interim of mental illness, she becomes temporarily homeless all the while holding down two jobs and providing parental guidance to her teenage daughters Isha and Tashana
In 2012, she moved from Mississauga back to Scarborough into a two-bedroom apartment with her daughters. Hawkins then landed a contract with East Scarborough Storefront Food Hub catering meals for Co-operate and Non-Profit businesses where she employed her daughters on a part-time basis.
Hawkins’s life continued to progress well for one year and a half until June 30, 2014, her 15-year career came to a screeching halt when she was misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer and was rushed into surgery that almost ended her life, destroyed her career and catering business permanently.
Hawkins became disabled due to medical malpractice and underwent many corrective surgeries, physiotherapy and psychological counselling. However, she never gave up on life as she battled the tough road of recovery. It was twice as hard going from $55-000 to $14.000 a year on a fixed income. Healing was difficult and challenging but she fought with all her might. And with the financial and emotional assistance of her daughters, life got a bit easier as the months and years wear on.
Things began to change for the better so much so, that in 2016 in early December while sitting down to one of their traditional Sunday dinners, her daughter Tashana suggested it was time to revisit Jamaica after not going for 17 years. Hawkins had frequently visited the country with her daughters when they were 3 years and 10 months old and stopped in 2000 when they were 6 and 9 years old.
Hawkins eventually agreed and soon the three of them begin to travel regularly to Jamaica. But It was not all pleasantries, they had robbed, one of their passports was stolen and they encountered many difficulties and challenges. However, these and other bad experiences never stopped Hawkins and her daughters from continuing to visit the well-loved tropical island of Jamaica. But on January 12, 2019, Hawkins’ life and that of Isha’s was changed dramatically when Tashana was killed by the people she knew while vacationing on the island. Hawkins was faced with the daunting task of repatriating her daughter’s remains back to Canada where she was born and raised for burial. Hawkins simultaneously joggled giving away her first daughter’s hand in marriage, catered for her wedding reception and baby shower to providing emotional support to Isha who gave birth and making burial plans for her daughter Tashana. In the interim, Hawkins was evicted from the apartment they lived in for seven and a half years. Yet Hawkins still finds time to be helpful to others in times of needs all the while smiling with her head held high with tears swimming in her eyes.
Just as the dust began to settle in her personal life, the reality, trauma of losing her child and homelessness took a toll on Hawkins mentally, physically and psychologically and Hawkins quickly sank into a deep depression, due to broken-heart syndrome and went through episodes of breakdown in her friend’s one-bedroom basement apartment. The following months were very difficult to cope with the loss of a child she loved and the loss of the years of the promise she had looked forward to. Hawkins contemplated committing suicide and spent several months in a Crisis Centre in Toronto. Two years later, Hawkins still mourns her daughter Tashana and continues to have very painful memories and triggers. But during all her pain and suffering, Hawkins is grateful for all the positive strides she has made in her life thus far.
Hawkins resumed her love and passion for writing poems and short stories and writes therapeutically. She continues to undergo counselling and has since embarked on the path to writing full-time as a career and is the author of “Hard As Diamond Soft As Silk. Hawkins lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.