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Date of Passing: Dec 08, 2018

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VIRGINIA PETCH Around 9:15 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, 2018, Virginia Petch passed away from ovarian cancer. She was predeceased by her father, Emil Kishynski and is survived by her mother Phyllis Kishynski; sisters, Pam Poley (Barry Poley), Pat Sokolowski and Diana Sokolowski; and sons, Chris Petch (Karen Petch) and David Petch (Pamela Mislawchuk); and granddaughters, Melissa Petch, Amy Petch and Emma Petch; nieces, nephews and a ton of professional colleagues. Virginia was born in Winnipeg, MB in 1946, which was equivalent to the wild frontier of Canada. Education was a huge part of Virginia's life. After marrying Donald Petch in 1966, they moved to Kenora where she started her career in the Medical Records Department at Lake of the Woods General Hospital. She went on to obtain her BA Honours, teaching degree, Master of Arts and PhD in Anthropology. Upon moving to Winnipeg in the early 1980s she worked for the Historical Resources Branch of the Manitoba Government for a number of years before starting her own business. Her business started as a one-person enterprise which expanded to a total of six people at its prime before she wound it down for retirement. Her work for Aboriginal groups and Manitoba Hydro produced tens of thousands of pages with information yet to be fully explored. She turned a profession - about as lucky to find a blacksmith job in a one-horse town - into an enduring and successful career. Her career had her leave her footprint on pretty much every reserve in Manitoba, a paddle touching many, many rivers and lakes, as well as hiking across many eskers and plains. Her soft spot for Manitoba was Churchill, where she conducted years and years of research. One of her unfinished projects was to develop an Archeology book for determining locations of potential sites. Her love for the Aboriginal people of Manitoba was apparent with her art work and reading material. Many thousands of hours of oral history were documented and published to attempt to preserve some of the native traditions as well as provide a sounding board for a continuation of their culture and tradition with the younger generation. A love of nature was also followed by her love for family and dedication. Her work ethic and charm were an inspiration for all to follow. She was a fantastic mother and an inspiration for all to grind all they have into life and work. She loved life and was fully present up until the final minutes of her passing. A celebration of Virginia's life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, December 15, 2018 at Glen Lawn Funeral Home, 455 Lagimodiere Blvd. A private family interment will take place at a later date at Transcona Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Jocelyn House at RIP Mom ... you will never be forgotten. She always put other people first and was always seeking ways to help others find advantages and solutions for getting ahead in life. Family and friends may sign a Book of Condolence at Glen Lawn Funeral Home 204-982-7550

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Dec 11, 2018

Condolences & Memories (17 entries)

  • I hadn't been in touch with Virginia in recent years, but I remember her well from 3 summers in the 90s, helping with her project excavating the Hudson's Bay Trading Post in Churchill. My memories of spending time with her are all positive - she was a professional and patient project leader, putting up with a diverse and borderline eccentric group of volunteers. I remember Virginia telling me about an experience she had with the project and her involvement with the local community. Apparently, when word got out that there would be an archaeological dig at the Hudson Bay Trading Post site, there were some in Churchill who had concerns about their history and land being disturbed. During my time at the site, Virginia always ensured that the work was done in a respectful and gentle manner. And at the end of each season, we did as much as reasonably could be done to restore the area to as close to its original state as possible, including general tidying up and replacing the sod on top of the dig area. Virginia related to me that a local citizen was curious to see first hand if our work had been disruptive. But even though he knew where we had been working, he reported back that when he went there, he was unable to find the actual dig site. This confirmed to me Virginia's respect for the land, the culture and the community. When I read about her passing, I went back to the pictures that I took on the trips to Churchill, and it brought back many memories of Virginia, the town, White Whale Lodge, the tundra, the excavation site, and the other people I met while working on the project. Anyway, Virginia was someone who I am glad to have known; condolences to family. - Posted by: Tony Nahon (Volunteer, friend) on: Jul 08, 2021

  • I was not aware until today. Saddened to hear her passing . My daughter found an old bone in the river this week and it looks very ancient. She asked me if I knew any “good” archaeologists. One of my first to come to mind was Virginia so I searched and found the Obit instead. I had the privilege of spending a few days paddling the Manigotogan River with her. We did some digging as well and found some nice arrowheads including a “red” spear head. We also came across some pictographs. It was more than paddling trip , it was where I got to meet a wonderful kind person. RIP Virginia. - Posted by: Donavan Fontaine (Friend ) on: Nov 10, 2020

  • I'm very saddened to learn of Virginia's passing. I had the privilege to work as an archaeological volunteer for her one summer in Churchill, which, largely due to her wonderful stewardship on the project, remains one of my most enduring memories. Virginia was among the most conscientious researchers and most patient and loyalty-inspiring field leaders with whom I ever had the privilege to work. Her concern and professionalism as noted in the biography here was always on display. I was very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and learn from her, and I wish her family all the best in remembering what she brought to this world. - Posted by: Zakariah Johnson (Volunteer) on: Feb 13, 2019

  • I remember a wonderful sunny day spent with Ginny when she stopped off in England on her way to a conference in Norway (I think). We drove around the beautiful Dorset countryside and I think she photographed Corfe Castle from every possible angle! At Lulworth Cove she explained all the strata in the cliffs to me, giving me a whole new perspective on a familiar place. I have a wonderful photo of Ginny sitting in the sunshine overlooking the Cove and that is how I shall always think of her. Rest in peace now, Ginny, and love to all your family. - Posted by: Margaret Herrington (Cousin's wife) on: Dec 15, 2018

  • So sorry to hearing of your mothers passing. I met her at a time when she was fully embracing retirement and looking forward to life in the new place she purchased outside of Winnipeg. She was purposeful yet warm and friendly and in conversation she showed a real love for her profession but more so the people she encountered in her life's journey. Wishing you as a family a peace that passes all understanding in your time of mourning her great loss. - Posted by: Clarence Braun (Friend) on: Dec 14, 2018

  • Condolences to Virginia's sons David and Chris, and their families, and to Virginia's mother and sisters and families. - Posted by: Judy Petch (cousin to Virginia's late husband Donald Petch) on: Dec 13, 2018

  • Condolences to your family. Virginia is always one of the people I recall in my experiences. We had a great trip on the Hayes River where I learned to appreciate her skills. She was a very congenial and kindly person. I will always remember her. Will Anderson - Posted by: Willard Anderson (Working colleague and friend) on: Dec 13, 2018

  • On behalf of my siblings and my own family, in particular our eldest daughter, who was hired by Virginia as an archeologist in her company, I wish to express our condolences and comfort to her whole family and all of her loved ones. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you.... Don Nord. - Posted by: Donald Nord (Old friend from Red Lake Ontario) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Virginia's family. I was Virginia's helicopter pilot on many occasions during her adventures in the north. It never felt like work flying her around, I always felt like I had learned something new or gained a better understanding of the north and its people by the end of the day. Virginia had a passion for the work she did and especially for the community's and people of the north. She was also so very proud of her family especially her grandchildren. Rest in peace Virginia , you will be missed - Posted by: Frank Roberts (Friend) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • Am very saddened to read of Virginia's passing. She was my "boss" when I began working in Medical Records at LWDH in Kenora in 1968. Virgina was a special person, so knowledgeable, kind, and gentle. Over the years we would see her name, or photo come up on CBC news or elsewhere reporting on her many research projects. Virginia accomplished so much, and had so much more to proud to have been among many who crossed her path. To the family, please cherish those happy memories of a live well-lived. Hugs to you all. - Posted by: Linda Freeman (former worker) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • Sorry to hear, my condolences. Richard - Posted by: Richard Pitura (Childhood classmates.) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • Ginny was a very special cousin from across the pond, we will always miss your infectious smile, your dreams will follow you on your journey across the tundra of your beloved Canada. David - Posted by: David Herrington (Cousin ) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • Ginny was a friend since a young age and thru high school. Our parents were also friends. We got in touch a few years ago and met in Winnipeg at the time of the Red Lake reunion. It was like no time had passed and we shared so many memories. She will be greatly missed. - Posted by: Theresa Herbert Dupont (Friend) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • Sincere condolences to all of Ginny’s family. I am so saddened to learn your struggle with this wretched disease is over but find peace that the pain and suffering are over for you, albeit not for your loved ones. It was great re-connecting for lunch in Sep /17 after now and again encounters thru Historical Resources during the early 2000’s. Rest in Peace dear Ginny and Blessing to your family - Posted by: Margaret McKeigan (High School Classmate) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • I was very sad to learn of Virginia's passing. We never met in person but corresponded over the years. I was intrigued by her work especially her trips up North and followed her travels and loved the photos she would send me. One photo really caught my attention and it was of her guide carrying a high-powered rifle in case of a polar bear attack or to scare them away if the came too close! Who knew her work was so dangerous? She would describe in great detail the difficult and lengthy water crossings necessary to reach a work site. Her love of the north and the people came through in all her writings. As a Facebook pal she made a strong impression on me and I would have loved to have met her in person and shared a meal. I will miss her letters and photos. My most sincere condolences to Virginia's family and friends. David Gerrior, Victoria BC - Posted by: David Gerrior (Friend) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • Loving memories of a dear cousin. We first met up in 1953ish when Auntie Phyl brought you all over to England to visit Gran, Grandad and all of her family. I remember that well and have lovely pictures to mark this great event. The next time was around 2005 when I visited Canada for the first time, and you and your sisters made me very welcome and it was as though we had never lived in a different country, and the years were not that far apart. The last time I came over you showed me your lovely new house, which you were so proud of, and rememberiung sitting on your veranda looking out over to the pond. Your poems reminded me of sitting on your veranda looking at the pond and through your poems I could visualise the pond now, as if I was now there sitting on your veranda looking at the pond. You have not gone far as you have left a great legacy. You will always be remembered with fond memories. Lots of Love Maureen - Posted by: Maureen Castell (Cousin) on: Dec 11, 2018

  • My dearest sister Ginny, you will be forever in my thoughts and prayers. I love you......May God Bless you and give you peace. - Posted by: Diana Sokolowski (Sister) on: Dec 11, 2018

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