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BRION WHITFORD  Obituary pic


Date of Passing: Jan 30, 2006

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BRION WHITFORD It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of Brion Whitford, on Monday, January 30, 2006 at the age of 50 years. Brion will be sadly missed by his mother and father, Isabel and Roland Whitford; brothers, John (Muriel) and Roly (Victoria); sisters, Laureen and Susan (Walter); nieces, Brittney, Robyn-Rae and Desiree; nephews, John, Christopher, Dale, Joe and Brion; numerous uncles and aunts; relatives; and a great many friends. He was predeceased by his grandparents; Thomas and Suzette Bone and Edward and Cecile Whitford. Brion was a unique and gifted artist who had many friends and interests. He grew up in Winnipeg's North End; graduating from St. Johns High School in 1975 and then attending the University of Manitoba where he majored in Film Studies. He was a talented and passionate film maker and photographer. He recently released a National Film Board documentary of his decade long struggle with advanced diabetes that won many accolades. In the Gift of Diabetes Brion explored the cultural causes and personal challenges associated with the epidemic in the Aboriginal community. Brion also was active in his home community of Keeseekoowenin First Nation where he played an instrumental role in the successful land claim challenge at Clear Lake, Riding Mountain National Park. His inimitable wit, intelligence and humour touched every person that he met. A memorial service for Brion will be held at the boardroom of the National Film Board of Canada, 300 - 136 Market Ave., Winnipeg on Friday, February 3 at 3:30 p.m. Wake services will be held at the Keeseekoowenin First Nation School Auditorium on Friday, February 3 at 5:00 p.m. Funeral services will take place at the Keeseekoowenin First Nation School Auditorium at Keeseekoosenin First Nation, MB on Saturday, February 4 at 2:00 p.m. Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and others and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Feb 02, 2006

Condolences & Memories (10 entries)

  • I watched the film "The Gift of Diabetes" this week, as the hope is that it is included in the curriculum for bringing Diabetes education to First Nations Communities in British Columbia. I was so taken by the film and by Brion's journey, I needed to know more about him and what he was doing now. I was so saddened to see that he had passed in 2006, a year after the film was produced - it felt as though a friend had died. I am sure that it felt this way for many who never met him, as he was so relatable, so honest, and reflective upon his life, his history, and his struggles, yet also cautiously hopeful. Then I thought of the part in the film where he is speaking with an Elder around the fire, and she said that she learned that she needed to let go of the pain and anger that her siblings were taken from her too soon, and to accept that they were here for a purpose and once they had achieved the purpose the Creator intended, they would return to the spirit world. May Brion rest in peace and continue to watch over his family, friends, and communities from the spirit world. - Posted by: Vashti (Appreciator of his film - "The Gift of Diabetes") on: Sep 14, 2023

  • July 29, 2022, thinking of you a lot lately! Missing you, Mom, Dad and Laureen! 16 years since you left for the spirit world! Still feels like yesterday! You were my hero!! Hope you are watching over all of us! So many miss you❤️ Love you Your baby sis! - Posted by: Susan Whitford (Sister ) on: Jul 29, 2022

  • I have been using Brion's film The Gift of Diabetes for several years in my college courses at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey; his work is much appreciated, and I hope he is always remembered in some new way each semester when I show his film to a new group of students. I hope he is at peace and offer a blessing for his memory and gratitude for his work. - Posted by: Marc David Bonagura (friend) on: Mar 28, 2019

  • Brion is one of three people who saved my life. In 2005 I was diagnosed with Diabetes. Struggling with depression since I was young, I was sure I was about to die. My doctor gave me a kick in the butt and told me that I could take responsibility for my wellness journey. Then, at our tribal fair I heard a healer talking about Historical Grief and trauma. Then, by some quirk of fate during a night of insomnia I saw Brion's film on the documentary channel. All the tumblers clicked into place. Here was another native man the same age as me, also an avid film maker, we had similar life stories, and while I too was born on a tribal homeland I was taken away as a child and struggled 30 years to go home. Brion's story gave me hope. It took 5 years to loose 100 pounds, but within the first year I became symptom free of diabetes. Mentally- that was a different story, but it became apparent that there was after all a thing I was afraid to trust in- hope. For the next five years, with Brion's story to inspire me, I overcame almost all of my medical conditions- obesity, diabetes, hopes tension, sleep apnea and finally depression. In 2010 my tribe selected me to be on the first team to retrace the Trail of Tears from Georgia to Oklahoma. It took 3 weeks but on my 55th birthday I made it! Riding on a bus back to Cherokee, NC all I wanted to do was call Brion and say "Thank you". I wrote him a long letter of thanks and then tried to find his address on the Internet. That's when I learned that the year after he made the film I saw he lost his battle with heart disease. I lost the best friend I never met. I think of Broom often as I try to become the ancestor I want to be. As so many who have gone before I am inspired by warriors who guide us all. Thank you Brion. As we Tsalagi say, I'll see you on the other side. - Posted by: Hugh Lambert (Best friend I never met) on: Aug 07, 2018

  • May you r.i.p. we all miss you very much. we all love you and miss you but you'll never be forgotten. may the creator take great care of you until we see each other again. - Posted by: Jerome Whitford (cousen) on: Jan 31, 2014

  • I first met Brion while working with Parks Canada in the early 90s and became good friends. My children loved him especially when he brought us moose meat. They still talk about him fondly. Was very saddened when I heard of his passing. Miss u my friend D - Posted by: Debbie McArthur (Friend) on: Jan 30, 2014

  • Miss u lots uncle I remember all the stories you always told me, the places you traveled and the trip When we went to Montreal for Larry's wedding. we went to Ottawa and visit the Parliament building And Niagara falls. When we ate at Larry's wedding and I didn't like the rare steaks because they were bloody haha!! I remember you and my mom talking loud. Your Intelligent heated conversations haha I wish I could have learned more from u. You were very smart, And very kind. I really miss u uncle. Love you lots. RIP - Posted by: Durand Daniels (nephew) on: Jan 30, 2014

  • I really miss you Uncle Brion - Posted by: Brittney Whitford (neice) on: Apr 02, 2013

  • I just watched the film "The Gift of Diabetes" in my university class >Social Determinants of Health. It was a very compelling and at times heart wrenching film. When I googled Brion's name, I was shocked to find out that he had actually died 7 years ago. I hope that he found happiness and peace, and I hope that many more people will see his film to understand. R.I.P. Brion Whitford. - Posted by: C.F. (none) on: Mar 13, 2013

  • We were both surprised and deeply saddened to see the news of Brion's passing. He was a close friend of our father's and a great support to us over the years. We enjoyed both his kindness and his humour. Please know that our thoughts are with Brion's family at this time and we hold Brion's memory close to our hearts. Peace be with you. Chenoa and Heather Payne - Posted by: Heather Payne (Friend) on: Feb 02, 2006

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