Hearts Love 23

Susanne Tom

August 23, 1952 ~ December 6, 2021 (age 69)

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Peacefully with her daughter and siblings by her bedside, Susanne Tom passed over to the spirit world in the early morning of December 6, 2021.

Susanne is survived by her beloved daughter Jennifer, grandson Lanza, sisters Jeannie, Celia and Alice, brothers Ivan and Jerry, Auntie Edith, dearest friend and partner Rick Demas as well as her most constant cousin Caroline Bussidor.

She was predeceased by her father Ronnie, (stepfather John Mowat), mother Mamie and brothers Oscar, Jimmy, Charlie, Robert and Sandy.

Susanne also leaves to cherish her memory nieces Monica, Tanya, Shannon, Charity, Janelle, Jamie-Lea, Ashley, Mamie, Nancy and nephews Martin, David, Ron, Robert Jr., Jamie, Cody, Dayle, and Brandon, as well as many great nieces and nephews and countless cousins.

The third of 11 children, Susanne was born August 23, 1952, in Churchill Manitoba. A survivor of the forced relocation of the Sayisi Dene, she experienced extreme poverty and hardship as a very young girl growing up in Camp 10 and later in Dene Village.

Susanne was also a survivor of the Residential School system having attended Norway House Residential School, Birtle Residential School and later the McKay Residential School in Dauphin.

As a young woman Susanne moved to Winnipeg in the 70s shortly after her daughter was born. In the Dene tradition, she arranged for Jennifer to be raised during those formative years by her grandmother and grandfather in Tadoule Lake so that her daughter could be immersed in the culture, environment, identity and language of her Sayisi Dene People.

Susanne established herself in Winnipeg and shortly thereafter arranged for her daughter to come live with her.

During her lifetime Susanne worked for the CBC in Churchill, Swampy Cree Tribal Council and Seven Oaks Youth Services as well as enrolling and graduating from several post-secondary training courses.

Blessed with an engaging personality, she formed many long-lasting friendships and relationships, of which the most important was with Rick Demas. Their bond was unshakeable and was the source of great comfort, happiness, and pride for Susanne for over four decades. Rick embraced the role of surrogate father to Jennifer and grandfather to Lanza and was Susanne’s trusted advisor, confidante and supporter.

Susanne’s greatest joy and comfort was her close relationship with her daughter and grandson.  She encouraged and celebrated their accomplishments and provided the direction and wisdom of a loving mother and grandmother when it was most needed.  She was particularly proud of the fact that she and her daughter could converse fluently in their Dene language.   

Susanne’s door was always open to family, friends, and even strangers, who appreciated her helpful nature, kindness, quick wit and practical wisdom. She was particularly sensitive to the needs of those who lived alone without family and would often see that they had meals and were well. Susanne also traditionally adopted two boys as her sons.

Her family gatherings and holiday meals held on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas day were legendary among family, friends and those who needed the warmth and welcome of unconditional companionship and generosity.  

Susanne was closely linked to the lives of many Sayisi Dene living in Winnipeg as well as Tadoule, particularly during periods of personal loss.  Proud of her language and Indigenous identity, she would often lead hymns written in Dene syllabics, which she remembered learning in the Anglican Church. She was respected as an Elder by many who sought her out for advice and stories of their family histories.

In recent years Susanne was faced with several serious health issues which took a toll on her mobility and independence. The loss of two very dear friends Millie and Alma, as well as several family members during this period, weighed heavily on her heart.

While Susanne presented a complicated, challenging and forceful personality, her sense of humour, moral integrity and unshakeable loyalty and love for family and friends were the rewards of our journey with her on this earth.

We are blessed and comforted to have the assurance that our cherished memories of Susanne will neither dim nor falter.

Her spirit has joined the ancestors to watch over us during our own journeys as we are guided by the Creator. 

Wake service will be held on Tuesday December 14,2021 from 7 pm till 11 pm at Eternal Grace Funerals 1111 Logan Avenue. Service will follow on Wednesday December 15,2021 at 12 noon also from the chapel.

Interment Brookside Cemetery.


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