Elroy Paul Jourdain, 68, of Couchiching First Nation, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007 at La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances, Ont. with his family by his side, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
He was born June 25, 1938 at Red Gut Bay to the late Paulet Jourdain and Mae Jourdain (nee Dale) of Couchiching First Nation and Red Gut Bay First Nation, respectively.
He was predeceased by his sisters, Kathleen and Florence Jourdain; brothers, Alphonse Smith, George Allen, Adolph Jourdain, and Richard Jourdain Sr.; son, Allan Burnham; and former stepson, Calvin Boshkaykin.
He was raised on Couchiching First Nation and then on Red Gut Bay First Nation, and had fond memories of both. It is this place that he acquired his love for hunting and fishing, and especially with his nephews, until he was physically not able to do so.
At an early age, Elroy attended the St. Margaret’s Indian Residential School on Couchiching, where he completed his elementary school. He starred on the St. Margaret’s hockey team as #15, coached by Fr. DeVarrens.
On Feb. 2, 1953, Elroy was named Most Valuable Player and highest scorer at the Indian Residential School tournament in Kenora, Ont.
He then attended high school at St. Mary’s Indian Residential School in Kenora. His hockey prowess would lead him to a short debut on the Winnipeg Monarchs junior hockey team for one year.
Elroy’s career began in the late 1950s building houses in Winnipeg for Metropolitan Construction. Later, he spent many years working as a logger for Dryden Paper Company, Reed Paper, Great Lakes Paper, and Abitibi.
During summer months, he would work as a hunting and fishing guide.
In a double ring ceremony, he was married to Theresa Marie Kabestra of Dalles First Nation on Oct. 11, 1975 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Couchiching.
Thereafter, they welcomed Eleanor Mae in 1976 and the following year, twins Candy Leah and Cindy Lou. They made their home in Wabigoon, Ont. and later on in Couchiching.
He was divorced in 1987 and took on the enormous task of single fatherhood. He was an active father and took pride in raising his daughters, and would get support from his sisters, brothers, and others from the community.
He was a role model for them and always stressed the importance of education. In fact, he attained an Associate of Arts degree from Rainy River Community College and then a Bachelor’s degree in American Indian Studies, a minor in Ojibwe, and minor in Anthropology from Bemidiji State University—all completed in his late 50s.
In the last 10 years, Elroy had spent most of his time at the seniors’ complex in Couchiching after a debilitating stroke. Even so, he was independent and strong-willed as a person could be, often riding on his scooter to the gas bar to get his lotto numbers and into town to visit people.
He was very appreciative of the staff at the seniors’ complex (Wilf, Amy, Jenny, and Carolyn), and the home-makers who made his stay there easier even when things were difficult.
He leaves behind his daughters, Eleanor Mae Jourdain (Winnipeg), Candace Leah Jourdain (Couchiching First Nation), and Cynthia Lois Jourdain and fiancé, Jacob Moore (Constance Lake First Nation).
He will be dearly missed by his very special grandson, Brandon James McGinnis (Manitou), whom his Papa was very proud of and supported him in his hockey pursuits, and always told him how proud he was of Brandon.
He also leaves his children from his former partner, the late Marlene Boshkaykin of Seine River First Nation, Melanie Montour (Thunder Bay) and Jason Montour (Calgary); grandchildren, Samantha, Seanna, and Trinity; great-grandchildren, Devvyn and Dante; and stepchildren, Mary, Delores, and Clifford.
He also will be sadly missed and remembered fondly by his brothers and sisters, Mary Bombay of Mine Centre, Robert Jourdain (Lois) of Cass Lake, Mn., Margaret Norris (Lyn) of Dryden, and Norman Allan (Patsy) of Red Gut; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
A wake will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 beginning at 4 p.m. at the Couchiching Multi-Use Facility, with internment at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007 at 10 a.m.
Pallbearers will be Elroy’s nephews, Richard Jourdain Jr., Terry Allan, Dean Jourdain, Dan Norris, Laverne Bombay, and Gary Allan.
Honorary pallbearers will be Clarence Jourdain, Stuart Mainville, Steve Mainville, Ernie Bird, Louie Jourdain, Willie Jourdain, Rudy Bruyere Sr., Tom Burns, and Robert Bombay.
In memoriam donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.