On February 28, 1927, at Riske Creek (Toosey), a baby girl was born to Eagle Johnny and Christine Montgomery, and thus the journey of Helen Theresa Johnny began.
Helen began her life like many others, living in many places and raised by several people. At the age of five her mother passed away and she was primarily raised by her father.
Helen lived at Toosey until her teens and spent many years with Charlie and Andy Stieman and took guidance from Andy’s wife, Gateline. On October 27 her father passed away.
Helen was the only female child with five brothers, four of whom she outlived: Eugene (1989); Phillip (1994); David ( 1954).
Surviving her is grandson Darren and her brother Joseph Johnny.
After her mother’s death, Helen and Prosper were sent to St. Joseph’s Residential School at the Mission in Sugar Cane. This is where she met many of her lifelong friends.
On many occasions, Helen would run away from the school and on one of these “jailbreaks” she met her future husband, Charlie Hance.
Soon after their initial meeting, she and Charlie moved to Gang Ranch. Throughout the years, they resided in several places – at the old airport in Williams Lake and at the Company Cabin to name a few.
In 1949, Helen gave birth to her son Raymond. Two years later Darlene was born in 1952 and Shirley followed in 1960, nine years later.
In the mid 1960s Helen met Charles Hurst and, as she would say began her ‘blanket marriage’ to him.
In the early years, they worked for Moon’s Ranch and lived in Arthur Meadow, Kenlock Meadow and at Fish Lake.
Together they had Charles Jr. in 1966 and Valerie in 1967. In 1973-74, with the help of family and friends, Charles built a log home in Toosey. This is where they spent the majority of their life together, until Charles’ death in 1989.
In 1987, Helen’s grandson, Darren Tenale, was born. When he was three months old, Charles and Helen took over raising him. In 1990, she and Darren moved from Toosey to Williams Lake to an apartment at the Friendship Centre. Darren was her pride and joy who stayed by her side until the end.
Helen had a full life and kept herself busy throughout the years. In early 70’s sheworked as the social worker for Toosey Band for four or five years. While she lived in Toosey she raised milk cows, chickens, pigs and was known for her Doberman Pinchers.
She and Charles were always off somewhere traveling, visiting, camping, hunting, trapping, berry picking or fishing.
If they weren’t busy in the outdoors, you were guaranteed to find them at the nearest bingo hall!
Helen’s greatest pleasure was her family, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The love and devotion she had for them was unsurpassed. Helen was always eager to spend quality time with them, teaching the young ones how to clean fish, how to cut and dry meat, how to bake bread and how to cook.
Helen was known to make a mean chicken stew and the best jam, Christmas cake, bread, bannock and cabbage rolls in the world.
Helen was one of the most unforgettable women around. Her inner strength and courage has impacted many people. Those who have had the pleasure of knowing her will surely miss her keen sense of humour, her infectious laugh and her crazy outlook on life!
Helen passed away July 25, 2003 at Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake with family at her side.
Helen is survived by her grandson Darren Tenale and brother Joseph Johnny.
Children include Ray Hance (Susan), Marty Perry, Samantha Perry, Carmen Hance, Jason Hance and Ryan Hance. Daughter Darlene Hance (David); Debbie Reynolds (Frankie), Trevor Robbins and Harold Tenale; Shelley Lampreau (Gerry) Alyssa and Michelle Lampreau; Rachel Hance (James) Alisha Wesselowski, Cole Hance-Weselowski and Tia Hance; Tammy Hance; Gerald Hance (Tracy) Kimberly and Mikayla Hance; Sheldon Johnny and Gilbert Myers. Daughter Shirley Hance-Chelsea (Edward), Crystal Stump (Mitch) Ethan Hunlin; Winston Stump, Danielle Cahoose and Jimmy Sill; Son Charles Hurst (Janet) Latisha, Jarvis Johnny and Wade Frank; daughter Valerie Johnny, Amanda Isnardy and Pearl Johnny. Numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, godchildren and adopted family members.
Darren Tenale and Joseph Johnny gratefully thanks all those from Toosey, Anaham Reserve and other places for your generous help and comfort in our time of need in the passing of our beloved Helen. Thank you.