Remembering Mary Wabasse

Posted: March 1st, 2017

A soft-spoken but strong woman. A gentle soul. Passionate. These are the words used by friends and colleagues when remembering Mary Wabasse.

Based out of her home community of Nibinamik First Nation, Mary worked for Tikinagan for many years. Her co-workers and families she worked with join with her family and community in mourning her death after a tragic car accident in Thunder Bay on February 15.

Mary, 58, was respected by all she worked with and she loved her work, her family and her community.

“Mary was a member of our Tikinagan family,” says Margaret Beardy, Service Manager. “Because of the kind of work we do, we need to lean on one-another to work together while we help families. We look at our co-workers not just as employees, but as our family members. Her passing is a great loss to all of us at Tikinagan, as well as her family and community.”

Mary joined Tikinagan in 2001 as a Community Support Worker, and two years later took on the more complex role of a Family Service Worker. She left Tikinagan in 2006 to serve her community in a leadership role on council, and returned to Tikinagan in 2011 as a Direct Services Supervisor.

“I think many people would describe her as soft spoken and a gentle soul, but she was also a strong woman and had a lot of compassion for her family and her community,” recalls Beardy. “Her heart was so huge and she was always patient and hardworking. She would do anything for people and always gave more than she needed to in her work and travel.”

Her colleague Sarah Nothing-Mekanak worked closely with Mary over the years and grew to know her well while working in the community of Nibinamik.

“She was very involved in her community. She was one of the strongest people I knew, even though she was small,” Nothing-Mekanak laughs. “She was so strong in spirit and especially during times of crisis in her community. I never found her to be drained, she always had energy and was focused on getting her community healthy.”

Mary was deeply rooted in her traditional ways, finding solace on the land and always enjoyed her time with family whether it was camping, fishing or as Nothing-Mekanak recalls, just being on the land with the people in her life.

“Sometimes in the evenings, when I was visiting the community, she would invite me to her sister’s teepee and we would make campfire tea and cook some traditional food. Her father would share stories and legends with us while we sat around the fire to listen.”

“I hope people she knew keep her passion alive for helping families and the community,” adds Nothing-Mekanak.

Mary’s sense of family, tradition and connection was what made her loved and respected by all she worked with.

“Mary was committed not only to her work at Tikinagan but to helping her community. She was dedicated and hard-working. She leaves what feels like a gaping-hole here at Tikinagan. We feel the heartache of losing someone so suddenly, so tragically and far too soon,” says Thelma Morris, Executive Director.

“We send our deepest, deepest condolences and sympathies to all who are affected by her sudden and tragic passing. She will be missed.”