Ticat superfan's family celebrates 50 years in Canada on same day as Grey Cup game
'At my age, I have to relax ... I'll be jumping up and down, but I'm not supposed to,' says Eva Quildon, 82
Sunday's Grey Cup game is a special day for Hamilton Tiger-Cat fans, but few will have better reason to celebrate than Eva Quildon.
The 82-year-old is a Ticats and CFL superfan. The championship final this year between her team and Winnipeg Blue Bombers is in her home city of Hamilton, and she'll be at the big game.
But there's also a personal reason Sunday matters to her: It'll mark 50 years since her kids landed in Canada after leaving Trinidad and Tobago.
"To tell you the truth, with my children, they're the type that have to have an anniversary … so I bought tickets for them," she said.
"The enthusiasm we have has really surpassed a lot of things I've done in Canada. We're going to celebrate it from Saturday right on."
Quildon said she arrived in Hamilton in September 1968, three years before the rest of her family.
"It was kind of scary and lonely because in Trinidad you have your children and they were [ages] 15 to 3, so that means you have to go back and forth all the time, and I went … but I had good parents, very good parents. They were like parents to them."
She came to Canada because it was seeking registered practical nurses. Quildon said she went from being a housewife in Trinidad to working in nursing homes in Hamilton.
Despite arriving with no family in the city, Quildon quickly became involved in the community — and the Ticats.
"You just come to Canada and don't know what it's all about," she said.
"When you come here, and have to go to a stadium and sit in the cold, it was a different experience entirely ... when I went in the mid-summer, that's when I really enjoyed the game."
Her first Grey Cup game — one of more than 15 she's attended — was in 1972 when the Ticats played in their own hometown.
She's also been a part of the Hamilton team's fan club, called the Cats Claws, where she's known for cooking mountains of food and painting children's faces.
Outside of being a diehard football fan, Quildon has won awards for community involvement, including the John C. Holland honour, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Hamilton's Senior of the Year.
When she's not doing that work, she's busy with her family — she has five kids, seven grandchildren and four great-grandkids.
Still, with all of her involvement with the team, she wrangled the family into that world, too.
Her 63-year-old daughter Felicia, who's a season ticket-holder, said the 50th anniversary of their immigration landing on Grey Cup day is "surreal."
"Anything could've happened in 50 years, so for us to be celebrating it together is great," she said, standing next to her mother.
"It just so happens to be Hamilton, so it's more exciting ... it's the fun of doing it and all of us together."
Quildon said she has her whole Ticats costume ready for Sunday's big game.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.