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Joan Marjorie FINLAYSON
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JOAN MARJORIE FINLAYSON Joan Marjorie Finlayson (née Lillie) passed away unexpectedly at her home in Vancouver on June 29, 2021. She was 91. She is survived by her sons, Alexander (Debbie) and Hugh (Janice) and her grandson, Jacob. She was predeceased by her husband, Alexander (Alec), who passed in 2018. She was born in Chilliwack, BC. It was the beginning of the Depression. Her father lost his business, and then the family home and the family moved to the Cariboo, where her father built a two-room house on the Cottonwood River near Quesnel. She went to grade school via correspondence because the local school had been shut down for lack of students. Her mother, fortunately, was a teacher. Joan inherited from her a belief in the importance of education and how it was necessary for women to be economically independent. She graduated from University of British Columbia with a degree in dietetics in 1953, at a time when few women entered higher education. In the summers she worked at the iconic Yellow Point Lodge near Nanaimo. There she made lifelong friends, one of whom introduced her to her future husband. She married Alexander James Finlayson in 1956 and the couple moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where Alec finished his doctorate. Two sons soon completed the family. Then she learned she had cancer; and right after the birth of her second son, she had a leg amputated. She survived--against long odds. It was a blow to her independence, but it did not deter her. On the bookshelves of our house were titles by Nellie McClung and other suffragettes and early feminists; and in the early 1970s our mother became active in the burgeoning consumer rights movement, eventually sitting on the national board of the Consumers Association of Canada. She also continued in her chosen profession as a member of the board of the Saskatchewan Dieticians Association. She felt keenly the tension between family life and a working life. Only after we became teenagers did she take a full-time position: at the University of Saskatchewan as a lecturer in nutrition. She later earned an MA from UBC then left the academic life altogether to work in dietetics at the Vancouver Health Department. Working with a team of dieticians in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside was, she said, the highlight of her professional career. She found the hands-on work immensely satisfying. She was strong (she beat cancer twice) with definite opinions sharpened by natural reticence. We knew her as someone with endless reserves for anything life might throw at her, who was a careful listener, known for being thorough and prepared, to which she applied after her retirement to being the family genealogist. To her final day, there were books open on her desk and computer at the ready. We miss her. May she rest in peace, beside her beloved husband.

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Published in The Globe and Mail from Jul. 21 to Jul. 25, 2021.
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