May 7, 1940 - January 6, 2024
With heavy hearts, the family announces the death of Mary Birchall on January 6, 2024, after many years challenged by complications of diabetes. Mary passed peacefully after a last visit with her youngest grandchild, Hannah, and having enjoyed the bright and beautiful Christmas decorations during her short stay at Three Links Manor, Kelowna.
Mary was predeceased by her husband of 56 years, John (d. 2020), son Robert (d. 2018), parents Thomas Squinas and Celestine Dagg-Guichon, and siblings: Harry, Annie, Illa, Susie, Jean, Liz, Shirley, and Lana.
She is survived by sons Richard (Susan) and Ron (Bonnie); daughter-in-law Cathy Leif (Percy); and cherished grandchildren Hannah, Thomas (Justin), Isaac, and Eric.
She is also survived by sister Emily, and many many nieces, nephews, and cousins of Ulkatcho First Nation, Anahim Lake.
Mary was born in Anahim Lake, BC, descendant of both Tsilhqot'in Chief One-eye and Dakelh (Southern Carrier) Chief Domas Squinas. Mary was a curious child. When she was too young for school, the teacher at the small school would allow Mary to play at the back of the classroom while older children were taught.
This allowed Mary to figure out on her own how to read English before entering the first grade; A considerable feat, considering English was Mary's 3rd language, a speaker of both Chilcotin and Carrier at home.
However, local schooling was not to be, and Mary was taken to a residential school. As a survivor of the unspeakable Kamloops and Williams Lake residential schools, Mary was not one to trust institutional settings or those providing anything perceived to be biased "advice". As an example, Mary's deviations from medical advice, while at first frustrating for the family, resulted in many instances of doctors being amazed at Mary's exceptional recovery and her "diligence" in following said advice... Mary was an amazingly vibrant and determined woman, who was a life-long learner; always keen to meet new people and learn of their life stories.
Always stylish, it is not a surprise that while working as a nurse in Vancouver, her neighbour-turned-husband, John, had caught her eye with his neatly combed hair. As a very involved mom and community member, Mary participated wherever possible, from softball coach and cubs/scout leader to Toastmasters #38 Kamloops Area Governor. She was also a "Superhost" volunteer in the 1993 Canada Summer Games and a proud member of a line dancing group, performing during the opening ceremonies. All the while, she was working as the bookkeeper for the family concrete construction business. Never afraid of hard work, Mary was known to lend a hand with the trowel if needed.
Of course, like her rancher father, horses were always a very important part of Mary's life; both having her own horses and participating in numerous Cattle Drives or going to the many summer fairs and pow-wows of the interior and Okanagan to see horses in action. It was a very sad day when age caught up to John and Mary and they had to move to an accessible apartment in the Okanagan, while their horses retired north to the Chilcotin.
Many in Kelowna will remember Mary as that vibrant brightly dressed senior in a wheelchair, shopping in the mall for gifts, getting a new TV, or perhaps enjoying waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast at a local restaurant.
The family thanks all of those caring individuals who helped Mary with her day, including the staff at Highlands Senior Residence where she lived for many years; the patient and caring Kelowna Cabs Accessible Taxi drivers; the Walmart volunteers who would help Mary onto a store scooter; Dr. Javed Ali for his exceptional kindness; and of course, everyone at Kelowna General Hospital Nephrology department.
All are welcome to join Mary's family and friends in commending her into God's care, on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at 11:00 am, at The Cathedral Church of St. Michael's and All Angels, 608 Sutherland Avenue, Kelowna, BC.
As an extension of Mary's giving nature, please consider a donation to Cathedral Cupboard (St Michael's and All Angels) or the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society in lieu of flowers. Condolences, photos, and memories may be sent to the family by visiting her obituary page at www.springfieldfuneralhome.com