It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of our mother, grandmother, kohkom, and elder Virginia Lalonde, a lifetime resident of Moberly Lake, British Columbia. Virginia passed away with her family by her side on Wednesday, July 6, 2022, at the age of 97 years.
Virginia Lalonde, also known as Hummingbird and Little Star first seen the sun rise on October 3, 1924, from a teepee, by the river overlooking Moberly Lake, BC. Born to Phillip and Madeline Davis (nee Desjarlais). She would be one of fourteen children.
They lived in a teepee from Spring to Fall each year. She seen times and changes that many of us cannot imagine. Virginia witnessed the oppression of First Nations people through many ways in her lifetime. The reserve pass system and the prohibition of pipes and drums for ceremonies to name a couple of examples. Throughout her life, she remained resilient, being raised the Saulteau and Cree ways. She followed these teachings in her spirituality each day. Virginia spoke three languages: English, Saulteau, and her native language, Cree; which she naturally passed on to her children in their home.
By the age of nine Virgina was making hides. Her mother, Madeline sat her down with a deer hide and told her to scrape. This would be the beginning of a long career that she would be very passionate about.
Virginia married Pierre Lalonde on February 23, 1945. They had two children, Dorothy and Evelyn. When she was pregnant with Muriel, Pierre and the two daughters became sick with Tuberculosis. Sadly, they passed later that year. Virginia promised Pierre she would never remarry. Pierre wanted his name to live on. Virginia went on to have 12 children. Muriel, Arlene, Verna, Vernon, Terry, Rhennie, Larry, Richard, Lana, Audrey, Cheryl, and Ronda.
Her favourite passions in this life were trapping, making hides, beading, and sewing, in that order. She was able to come out trapping with us in her early nineties, she made hides until she was 96 and beaded up to the age of 95. She did not like to be idle; to her, laziness was a sin. She took care of herself physically, mentally, and spiritually; we believe this is why she was able to pursue her passions for so long.
Virginia worked hard. She ran her own home-based business to support herself and her children; ensuring they had good food, clothing, and shelter. Making moose hide jackets, vests, mucklucks, and moccasins. Many which are being proudly worn here today. Virginia was a very self-sufficient woman, other regular tasks included gardening, berry picking, canning food, trapping, and making winter coats and mittens for her children. Virginia once told us of how she would walk up the hill behind her house to find a good tree for firewood to cut and roll it down the hill; now that is working smarter! When she didn’t know how to do something, she would ask others to show her. She was never afraid to learn and work hard for her children. Life was tough but she never let that make her bitter or angry. She said, “people might think I had a hard life bringing you kids up by myself; but that’s not how I thought, to me it was nothing to it, I just did it.” Virginia also provided a support home to those in need. When people had no place to go, they could stay with her; she was a community support worker long before it was titled as such.
Education was also important to her. She would not let her grandchildren live with her unless they were going to school. Get an education and work hard, that was her goals for all her children and grandchildren. In turn, she passed on her valuable knowledge of our traditional ways to educate our community. Virginia welcomed students to her home and attended local schools to speak and teach about our culture. She was doing her part for reconciliation long before the calls to action were announced. Many here have learned how to make moose hides, moccasins, mucklucks, dry-meat, the best bannock, and traditional soups. Been taught to bead, sew and can by Virginia.
Her grandchildren felt such an immense unconditional love, and all know how blessed we were for the childhood we were granted; majority of it spent together with Nohkum naan. A week ago, she wanted to know how many grandchildren she had so out came the paper. Virginia had 14 children, 39 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great grandchildren. Not to mention all the children and grandchildren she adopted along the way. She would say “if a child loses their parents and they pick you, then you are their parent, that’s our way.” Her children and grandchildren were the loves of her life, and they knew it.
The stories she told up until her very last day consisted of life lessons and obviously humour and wit... “that’s enough Delphine, that’s enough!” She would recall when Nick, Terry, and Glenn would be arguing over who her favourite son-in-law was, she didn’t skip a beat and answered them saying David Badine”. Remember, she once said to us: If it wasn’t for me, none of you guys would be here.
All that had the honour of knowing her felt her love. The day before her death Virginia told her daughter Terry “I love every one of my children, the same, not one more than another. I love all my kids; I don’t think I should have regrets. I raised my kids. I think at least, I think I have done good raising my kids. I always had good food and clothes. If there were new clothes, no one got more than another, always the same, but not only good food and clothes, there was more than this and that was love. We had love. I kept you guys in one place, my home. But now I am done, I think I did a good job, I cared for you guys and now it is time for you guys to take over; now I want you guys to take care of each other. I have been thinking about my life and I ask myself did I love my kids enough, did I? LOVE your kids I tell you! Love your kids.
I know we will all take away our own teachings and memories from our unique, special relationships with Little Star, our Queen. But also remember these words of wisdom from a woman who survived and thrived for 97 years: get an education, work hard, love harder, because love is what it is about.
As Virginia was watching her last sunset on the evening of July 6, 2022, The Eagles came, circled above, whistling. She requested the pipe in Cree. Surrounded by her family, she was drummed into the arms of Creator.
A wake will be held Tuesday, July 12, 2022, at 6:30pm from the Pemmican Grounds Saulteau First Nations, Moberly Lake, British Columbia. A Traditional Funeral Service will be held on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at 1:00pm at the Pemmican Grounds Saulteau First Nations, Moberly Lake, British Columbia. Interment will follow in the Lake View Cemetery, Moberly Lake, British Columbia.
Very Respectfully, Reynars Funeral Home and Crematorium