Shirley Henderson remembered for her dedication to the less fortunate

Daily Herald file photo. Prince Albert Grand Council Women's Commission chair Shirley Henderson speaks at a sodturning ceremony for a new MMIWG monument on Oct. 1, 2020. Henderson passed away on Friday at the age of 69.

Friends and family members remembered Shirley Henderson as a dedicated advocate for the less fortuante in Prince Albert and her home comunity after the former PAGC Women’s Commission Chair passed away on Friday at the age of 69.

Henderson served as the women’s commission chair for more than 25 years. Sheryl Kimbley worked with Henderson on many projects and was always impressed with Henderson’s energy.

“Shirley was dedicated to the improvement of conditions and improvement of opportunities for all women,” Kimbley said.

“She dedicated her life to ensuring that those who didn’t have opportunities had opportunities right down to the inclusion of young people at our events. She would hire (them) to help do the work that we do–making sure that they got a little bit of extra money to help out. She was always looking for the person who didn’t get those opportunities.”

Kimbley described Henderson as someone who dedicated her life to the underprivileged. She remembered one speaker at Henderson’s wake who was among those Henderson took under her wing.

“Shirley gave him that chance that he didn’t have and he will never forget that,” Kimbley said. “That’s exactly what I think about when I think of Shirley.

“She looks for those who she knows have good hearts and those who are hard workers and they just need that first chance. That’s who she is, and that’s her legacy. You don’t know who’s going to be able to follow in her footsteps because I’ve never met a woman like Shirley and I don’t think I ever will again.”

In a press release issued Sunday, the PAGC said Henderson’s legacy is a tapestry of her achievements, woven with the love and respect she garnered from those she served.

“The impact of a life well-lived is measured not in days or years, but in the enduring change it brings to the world,” PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte said in a press release. “Shirley Henderson changed our world for the better, and we are all the richer for it.”

PAGC Photo Former PAGC Women’s Commission chair Shirley Henderson has passed away at the age of 69.

As the Chair of the Women’s Commission, her contributions were vast including overseeing the PAGC Day Care and her involvement with various boards including the Northern Lights Community Development Corporation.

A tireless advocate, Henderson organized campaigns addressing issues such as MMIWG2, Every Child Matters, and Truth and Reconciliation and provided support to the homeless and Ukrainian refugees.

Even though Henderson is known for her time as Women’s Commission chair, Kimbley said Henderson was a go-to person for anything including her work on MMIWG and Two Spirit causes among other things

“She was heavily involved in her home community and any time we had an evacuation or Summer Games, Winter Games, Shirley was there right in the trenches, peeling potatoes, organizing volunteers, gathering clothing,” Kimbley remembered. “She was the go-to person for many things, including the recent thing that they’ve been doing with the jacket giveaways and the meals, Shirley was right at the core of all of that.”

Henderson’s efforts were recently recognized with the prestigious Women of the Dawn award, honouring her outstanding work for women and families.

Kimbley said Henderson’s legacy will continue through her family,

“Her family was included in almost everything she did. Otherwise, I don’t know how much time they would see her because she was always on the go. They learned they learned how to volunteer and give of their time in that way,” Kimbley said.

“It will continue because of the women’s lives she touched, the young people’s lives she touched and her hard-working family who knew her to be that kind of person,” Kimbley added.

Apart from her PAGC work, Henderson was the embodiment of unwavering commitment to her community.

Henderson was a proud member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation and dedicated her life to public service in various capacities, including as a band councillor, director of health and volunteer.

Henderson’s dedication to health and education shone through in her support for the construction of MLCN’s new health centre, the women’s safe shelter and the Allan Bird Memorial School, as well her passion for community engagement was evident in her initiation of events such as MLCN’s annual fish derby, Molanosa Cultural Days, winter festival, sports day and the Saskatchewan Summer Games.

Viewing for Henderson took place on Dec. 31 with a memorial service at the PAGC Urban Office in the old Margo Fournier Centre.

A wake was held on Jan.1 at the Senator Allan Bird Memorial Gym, Montreal Lake Cree Nation.

The Funeral is scheduled for Jan. 2 at 11 am in Montreal Lake Cree Nation, followed by the burial in Molanosa.

A Celebration of Life is scheduled for her birthday on June 1, 2024.

Henderson is survived by her husband PAGC Senator Noland Henderson, with whom she recently celebrated a golden anniversary, her children Dean (April) and Raina, her grandchildren Kiana and Rayla and numerous family members who will continue to walk in

“I would just like to send out heartfelt condolences to her family for all the time that we’ve taken her away through the Prince Albert Grand Council Women’s Commission activities which never seemed to slow down,” Kimbley said. “We were always asking of her time along with the Chief’s table that she sat at, so thank you to her family for lending us that wonderful woman all these years.”