Mary Reid died the 31st of March 2011 at 90 years of age in her bed at Haro Park Centre, with her family keeping vigil. She left behind her son, Stephen, and his wife Melanie and their children Alex, Jake and Michelle, as well as her daughter Stephanie Chimilar and husband Peter, and their children Lauren Chimilar and Jennifer Visocchi, as well as Jennifer’s husband Dino and their children Mary, Braden, Christopher and Elizabeth. She was predeceased by her brothers David, William, Joseph and Peter and sisters Georgina, Harriet, Angeline, Elizabeth, Irene and Alphonsine.
Mary was born on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and raised by her widowed grandmother, Sarah Greyeyes. To Mary, she was "Mom". When she was five she was put into the residential school system at St. Michael’s School in Duck Lake SK. She was hungry for learning. After grade 8, when the native schools stopped teaching their students, a nun was tasked with giving lessons in the evenings to Mary and two other girls. During the days the older girls helped run the school - cooking, doing laundry, cleaning and sewing.
Mary was nine when the Great Depression struck, and the reserve was hard hit. Her brother Dave, with whom she was closest in age and in heart, left to find work so he could send money back to their mother. Dave also joined the Army when the war started. Mary worried that there were few opportunities on the reserve, and decided to join the Army too. She ended up being the first native woman to join the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, and was sent to England. She worked in Aldershot first as a laundress and then as a cook, staying on until 1946 cooking for the officers as the paperwork was processed to end the war.
After spending time with her mother on the reserve, she travelled to Winnipeg, where she met her future husband Alexander Reid, known to all as Bud. They moved to Victoria to start their new life, where Stephen and Stephanie were born. Mary went through some very lean years in Victoria, which she got through with determination, hard work and self-sacrifice. Her children never realised until they were adults how much Mary sacrificed for them. She worked as a cook at McEwan’s Restaurant, where her skills and work ethic made her a valued employee.
In 1960 the family moved to Vancouver, and life improved. Since moving west they had changed houses every few years, but in 1966 they bought a house on Commercial Street, where Mary lived for 36 years. Mary’s life revolved around her family, and after her children left home she hosted thousands of dinners, on Sundays, birthdays, holidays and hosting visiting relatives. She worked as an industrial seamstress in downtown Vancouver.
In 1989 Bud, the love of her life, died. She carried on, keeping herself busy with sewing, knitting and gardening and her cats, but eventually dementia began creeping up on her. In 2002 she moved to Haro Park Centre, where the staff took great care of her. Although the disease stole her memories, her mobility and voice, she remained cheerful and sweet. Lea Jensen was a companion to her for over two years, and for the last 4 years Elena Nelson helped her stay socially connected. These two lovely ladies helped make her last years much more enjoyable, as did the wonderful staff at Amber Lane in Haro Park Centre. The family is grateful to all who cared for Mary with love and patience. They are privileged to have shared the life and the death of a woman who loved them absolutely and taught them to love in return.
A memorial service will be held at Haro Park Centre Saturday April 16th at 11:00 a.m. in the Chapel, followed by a reception in the Penthouse. She will buried with Bud on the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation Reserve in Saskatchewan, near her beloved mother Sarah and brother Dave.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, a hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
St. Francis of Assisi
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