A month after receiving a shocking homophobic message in a valentine at his former workplace, Degas Sikorski is feeling the love all the way from Parliament Hill.
Sikorski was presented with a Valentine's Day card and photo from Edmonton-Centre MP Randy Boissonault during a brunch on Saturday. In photos posted on Facebook the same day, the card features a photo of a rose and inside are messages of support from MPs, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Dear Degas, know that your friends outnumber the haters by the millions and I'm one of those friends," Trudeau wrote.
Sikorski instantly welled up when he first opened the card and laid his eyes on the two photos, one of Trudeau and Boissonault signing the card and the other of the Prime Minister showing it off.
"It was hard not to cry at the moment when I saw that somebody who I see as above me and almost godly in my eyes, as you're taught in high school, is giving me a personal message," said Sikorski.
"It just took all the words out of my mouth."
Boissonault said Sikorski was "speechless" at the gesture.
"Then the tears started to fall, then we asked him how he felt," Boissonault said. "He said 'I feel totally loved and I want to give the prime minister a hug.'"
The card came with a green booklet, embossed with the House of Commons stamp and filled with more messages from MPs.
"You are amazing! We all support you!" Wrote Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade.
Sikorski garnered massive support last month after his mother, Shelley Bramhoff Sikorski, posted a photo on Facebook of the valentine he received from Party City, where he was employed at the time.
"It's important for people in positions of authority to stick up and remind people what is right." - Randy Boissonault, Member of Parliament
The valentine was a paper plate filled with candy and covered with hearts. Written in black marker on the front was her son's name and a homophobic message.
In a Facebook message, Sikorski said her son, Degas, received the valentine from someone at his workplace, Party City, in north Edmonton. He had been an employee at the store for three years, while putting himself through university, she wrote.
He has since left his job there.
'We have his back'
Boissonault, an openly gay MP, said he knew he wanted to do something to help Sikorski after seeing the original posting on Facebook. Boissonault said he faced some "tough times" being gay in Alberta during the 1990s and said it's important for people of any age to know Canada is tolerant of anyone's sexual orientation.
He decided to get a Valentine's Day card and asked his colleagues in the House of Commons to sign it.
"I explained what was going on to the prime minister and he said, 'well, that doesn't sound very nice, let's write this young man a message.' So we went into his office and he signed a beautiful message to Degas," he said.
On Saturday, two and a half weeks later, Boissonault finally gave Sikorski the card.
"It's important for people in positions of authority to stick up and remind people what is right," said Boissonault. "Here (we are) reaching out to say that we have his back. And bullying like that, and anti-LGBTQ sentiments, are just not tolerated."
Sikorski, for one, never thought what happened to him would ever land itself on the Prime Minister's radar.
"I never thought it would get to the prime minister, I never thought he would even care," said Sikoski.
"I knew equality and LGBTQ issues were a thing for Justin Trudeau, I just didn't think that an issue that I experienced myself would be so close to home for him."