Feb 27, 1945 - Mar 04, 2023
Ilma Maria Lynton Holt was born on February 27, 1945, and died on March 4, 2023.
She was born in Panama City, Panama, to Caribbean (Jamaica and Barbados) parents, was first-generation Panamanian on the maternal side, second-generation Panamanian on the paternal side, and grew up in the city of Colòn. She was a concert pianist as a child, winning national and international acclaim, and went on to study music at the University of Oregon on scholarship. She was active in the international students union and the volatile civil rights movement in the United States in the early mid-sixties. She switched majors (and forfeited her scholarship) to study political science. She married a white man, Gary Coldevin (at the time it was still illegal in several states to do so), and they moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to start a family in 1970. The October Crisis, the general strike of ’71, and the unprecedented blizzard (storm of the century!) were some of the highlights of her first years in Canada. Besides Panama, Canada and the U.S., Ilma lived in India and Kenya. Ilma travelled to Europe and lived in many places, but loved Canada where she lived in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa, which she called home. A fiercely independent person, she filed for a divorce in 1979 and subsequently raised her two daughters on her own. Ilma had too many accomplishments to list but some highlights include completing her Master’s degree in political science at McGill University, practicing Shotokan Karate for 10 years, she was a stockbroker, the Executive Director of the Negro Community center in Montreal, and a Program Manager with Heritage Canada (before she retired). A lifelong student and musician, Ilma had many interests and continued playing, arranging, and writing music for much of her life. Ilma was a passionate woman, quick to laugh and quick to anger, elegant, glamorous, an incredible storyteller, charismatic, intelligent, and resilient. She introduced us to science fiction and a love of the arts. She was at home anywhere, from safari on the Serengeti to the local pub. She enjoyed pride parades, Caribana, and all kinds of music. She loved to dance and celebrate life. She made all of our holidays and birthdays special, instilling in us the importance of fun. She spoke English, Spanish, French, Italian and Swahili. She was a trailblazer and a wonderful spirit. Ilma suffered from mental health issues, more predominantly in her later years, with both a physical and a rare mental/cerebral decline resulting in dementia, caused by MS. She lived for the last ten years of her life in a long-term care facility with the loving support of her youngest daughter Natasha and the wonderful staff at the Glebe Centre in Ottawa. In her final days, she was surrounded by her two daughters, with music and laughter and love. She died peacefully in her sleep. She is survived by her daughters, Alezandria and Natasha Coldevin, and her grandson Devin Bristow Coldevin.