Heather Stewart (Mouat) McConnell

Heather passed away in Kelowna General Hospital on Monday, March 23, 2009. She had been living courageously with cancer for over four years.

Heather will be deeply missed by her husband Jim; brother Malcolm; daughters Rhonda (Gordon) and Adele (Michael); grandchildren Allison, William, Jessica, Katie and Galen; her many close relatives; and a large circle of cherished friends.

Heather was born in Vancouver, the younger of two children. She married Jim in 1965 and they spent their first few years in Prince Edward Island where Heather began her teaching career and Jim worked in the Air Force. They subsequently moved to Vancouver where they both attended university.

In 1969 Heather and Jim moved to Sicamous to teach, settling in Salmon Arm the following year. With the birth of Adele, in 1972, and Rhonda the following year, Heather devoted most of her time to raising the girls. When the girls reached grade school she returned to substitute teaching. She taught kindergarten at Carlin Elementary for 10 years prior to her retirement in 2001.

Heather was a leader, mentor and inspiration for so many people that she connected with throughout her life and work. She was a very strong community and global activist and worked tirelessly with numerous groups over her lifetime. Her work included chairing both the local women’s shelter and the Family Resource Centre. She served on the board of the First United Church, as Presbytery delegate, and was active with the Faith and Justice Committee. She was also at the forefront of many of the changes that have occurred in the United Church. Always an advocate for the marginalized and oppressed, Heather devoted much effort to groups such as Amnesty International, Ten Days for World Development, and Kairos. In 1989 she travelled with an ecumenical group to Cuernavaca, Mexico to witness first hand the effects of injustice and oppression in Latin America. This trip was a redefining experience for her.

As a breast cancer survivor, Heather volunteered with the local Cancer Society as a counsellor and mentor until her diagnosis with multiple myeloma.

Heather and Jim loved to travel, ski, hike, kayak, camp and spend time on their boat. Many of these adventures were shared with their dear friends. Heather was also an avid gardener and had a passion for the art of quilting.

Heather’s family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to her tremendous “team” of close friends and family as well as the doctors and staff of the Cancer Agency and the dialysis units Vernon and Kelowna.

A Celebration of Life will be held at First United Church, Salmon Arm, on Saturday, April 11th at 2:00 p.m., with a reception to follow in the church hall. In lieu of flowers, Heather asked that donations be made to the Shuswap Community Foundation at: Box 624, Salmon Arm, B.C. V1E 4N7, or at www.Shuswapfoundation.ca.