Millie Shewchuk was born on Fair Island, a small island community off of Newfoundland. She recalls life being rather simple there as they could only grow the basics like potatoes, cabbages, and carrots in their small garden. She attended primary school on the Island before the government moved families off the small islands around Newfoundland as winter services were limited when the sea froze over.
Millie’s dad was agreeable to such a move so his children could be more conveniently located to educational and medical services; she appreciates that he was progressive in this regard in order to create more opportunities for his children.
Their family home was moved to the mainland area called Centreville. Other families soon followed and it became a small new village. Her father was a seasonal cod fisherman, and a hunter during the winters. Her mother was a full time homemaker who
also helped her father bring in the cod. As a child, Millie never felt the need to complain about their meals as she was fed a steady supply of fish and moose. She has many positive memories about playing in the fresh outdoors with her 6 half-siblings and 6 full siblings
As a teenager looking for new adventures, Millie moved to the city of Gander, Newfoundland. She worked in hotels where she met her future ‘Prairie boy’ husband, Rick who was stationed there as part of his ice patrols, all over northern Canada. After they married, they lived in Yellowknife for over 4 years where Rick worked in the weather office. They later moved to Lethbridge in 1973 where Rick continued his work in the weather office here. Millie recalls that they arrived during a Chinook and acclimatized to Lethbridge very easily. Millie worked at Southland Nursing Home and St. Mike’s before she retired from paid employment about 10 years ago
They had 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. They lost their two adult daughters some years ago and she
describes the experience as a “life changing nightmare” to live through. The rest of her family live close by in Calgary and Innisfail. Many of her extended family are still in Newfoundland. Millie tries to get back to Newfoundland every other year for a month or two. She loves to visit Fair Island, where many of her family members still have holiday ‘cabins’. She also has some extended family in St. John’s.
Millie is a dedicated LSCO food service volunteer and can regularly be found serving lunch meals; she believes that volunteering here is “good therapy” for her as it makes her “happy” and brings her “pleasure”. Her favourite meals are a Turkey dinner and Beef stew.
She enjoys watching golf and rooting for the Blue Jays. She also enjoys listening to easy and classical music, Irish folk music and jigs, she attributes her love for music to her very musical family. She spends the remainder of her time trying to improve her fitness with LSCO’s fitness programs and classes. Millie also likes to read non-fiction stories and history (e.g. WWII , the holocaust).
Millie believes that “what goes around, comes around” and that “family is everything”. She is most proud of her children and
her adult granddaughter. As a result of her upbringing, she believes in “doing things for people”; she tries to give of herself and be “kind”. And she always believes, “the best is yet to come.”
Be sure to look for Millie’s friendly, happy face at the kitchen volunteers’ table in the dining room.
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