At 17 years old, after her father died, Ruth-Ann Ramsay got into a relationship with a man in his 50’s who threatened to kill her if she left.
Living in Jamaica where there is little to no support for mental health illness, while people turned a blind eye to abusive relationships, seeking help was even harder. She was often afraid for her life.
That harrowing story and more surfaced at Algonquin when a dozen people came together in the Ignite AC building Jan. 31 for the launch of I have a Father, Ramsay’s first published book.
The “Father” in the title of Ramsay’s book refers to the man, who was old enough to be her father, and “her real father, Jesus, who set her free,” the author told the gathering.
Ramsay immigrated to Canada from Jamaica as an international student on April 3, 2015, along with her husband and young son. She started in the chef program at Algonquin in May 2015 and graduated with honours in December 2015.
She has worked in various kitchens, most recently at the Ottawa jail, a job she really loved. Currently, she is on maternity leave with her nine-month-old and his older sibling who is now three.
Alero Okujago, life coach and image consultant for Ramsay, met Ramsay at a playgroup. They were both mothers of young children and immigrants to Canada finding their place and looking for connections in their new realities.
Ramsay was struggling to write her book and needed help while Okujago was looking to relaunch her consulting business after immigrating to Canada.
The two women realized they could help each other.
“I read the book and cried.” said Okujago as she invited Latoya Nkanza, a friend of Ramsay’s, to come up on the raised stage and read a passage from I have a Father.
“I would wonder why Daddy always had to embarrass me. I would look at him with his chipped tooth (from a fall one time at a psychiatric ward) with a backpack he always carried on his shoulders,” read Nkanza. “His shoulders leaned to one side from falling off a tree. Many people including family members teased him. One cousin called him Madman Oliver…Daddy always looked shabbily clad, with his shirt not buttoned properly. I pitied him. Looking at his bushed-up face, eyes piercing out, perspiration running down his forehead, I often wondered, ‘God, why couldn’t you just make him better?'”
Ramsay then took the stage to discuss the mental health element of I have a Father and how writing it helped her remember it was okay to seek help, okay to have issues — and that this book was her #metoo.
It describes her journey through incest, molestation and abuse and how she survived, not because of her faith in God but because Jesus never forgot her even when she was at her lowest point and had forgotten Him.
“Nothing can harm me,” said Ramsay. “Father’s always fighting her battles.”
With God’s help, Ramsay says she has forgiven the man who molested her as a child and released her healing.
“If you don’t release,” said Ramsay, “you will be sick.”
The book launch was the culmination of a lot of work and despite the weather and the blue moon, the “chaos couldn’t stop this from happening,” said Ramsay.
If you are interested in reading her book, it is available for sale through www.amazon.ca as both a paperback and Kindle version, or you can email the author directly at Ihaveafather.email@example.com.