A few weeks ago, my 98 year old aunt passed away and I went to attend her funeral in Prince Albert Saskatchewan. She was one of the thirteen children and is survived by my mother and 2 other sisters.
When my grandparents first arrived in Canada, they were put on a train and sent to south central Saskatchewan as pioneers, where they were given a small plot of land to build a new life on. There, they erected their first home out of sod and at the end of the harvest grandpa would hitched up his team of horses and travel alone over 300 miles north to work in the lumber fields for the winter. It was hard work, but they not only thrived over time, they made certain that each of their children were educated beyond high school.
My aunt’s funeral brought several of us cousins together to celebrate a life full of dedication and accomplishments. Her husband had died in 1964, leaving her to raise their six children, the youngest of whom was only 6 months old. She went back to nursing and immersed herself in numerous local causes included being a school trustee for over 30 years. Reconnecting with my cousins was profoundly emotional and even though we hadn’t seen each other for many years, it was as if we had just been together the night before. Following the funeral I visited my mother’s 2 remaining sisters in Regina; one being 96 and the other 92, both of whom are still very much with it.
Several of my cousins farm near Outlook and I spent 2 nights with one of them there, allowing me the opportunity to share in some of the harvesting workload and to meet up with several others over dinners. It was during this part of my time there, that I would reflect as I looked out over the beautiful Saskatchewan prairie landscape and visualize my grandfather crossing somewhere close to where I was standing in his open wagon heading north to work for the winter months, and humbly realizing how fortunate I am to be a small part of this far reaching, diverse family. Understanding our history and those that are a part of it, helps us to realize who we are and what we can accomplish.