With her family by her side, on April 10, 2023, after a short stay in hospital, Naashki Binesiik, Orpha Copenace (nee Mandamin), passed away peacefully in her sleep at Seven Oaks General Hospital, aged 91 years.
She leaves to mourn her passing her children, Charles Copenace (Anita), Peggy Copenace-Hunt (Ernest), Reginald Copenace (Marcella), and Donald Copenace (Ida). Her grandchildren, Serena (Brian), Chuck, Nadya, Cassandra, Manley, Gloria, Calamay (Suzanne), Lalita (Patrick), Neepekan (Damon), Dylan (Rachel), Jackson, Danielle, Japheth, Isaac (Connie), Ethan, Cora Rae (Tim), Bear (Sarah), Fawn (Mike). Her great grandchildren, Brenden, Alex, Melissa, Jesse, Leava, Shawntae, Kaya, Gage, Kylleon, Lyric, Troy, Malori, Calista, Colby, Megan, Joshua, Jonah, Isaiah, Donovan, Korey, Washtay, Alicia, Autumn, Bryanna, Haven, Rylan, Kai, Illias, Isla, Chloe, Caius, Jaiden, River, Sydney, Lily, Barry, Johnny, Jacob, Lyla, Daysin, Solara, Lucas, Elizabeth, Addison, Brooklyn, Amara, Eden, Micah, Jake. Her great-great grandchildren Samuel, Lilyn, Landon, Naomi, Troy, Jenaya, Tabu, Willow, Quill, River, Fin, Sage, Nova, Mila, August, Gwendalyn. Her nephews and nieces, Julie, Mable, June, John, Isaac Jr, Pamela, Betsy, Darlene, Lulu, Leah. Orpha leaves to mourn numerous special friends and relatives.
Orpha is predeceased by her loving parents, Dora Spence & Charles Mandamin, maternal grandparents, Jane and Horace Spence, brother Isaac Mandamin, aunties Leah and Bessie, husband, Samuel Copenace Sr. Children, Caroline Copenace, Samuel Copenace Jr, Elizabeth Copenace, son in law, Isaac Pahpasay. Grandchildren, Candace Copenace, Nazareth Kwandibens, Harriet McDonald, Cindy Pahpasay. Great grandchild Kanyon Redsky. Nephews Douglas Mandamin, Bobby Mandamin.
Our great great grandmother, Orpha Copenace, was always such a character and had a wonderful sense of humor. Her name came from the bible, but she changed it up to make it her own. It took so long for her, March 8, 1932, birth certificate to be issued to her, she was registered with a completely different last name, when she sounded it out, it was her father’s Ojibway name. After they lost their mother, at an early age, she was raised by her maternal grandparents, Horace and Jane Spence. Her memories of those early years at One Man Lake and Wabaseemoong are of being loved and cared for completely along with her aunties Leah and Bessie. They were never hungry and always had a garden with lots of potatoes and even pumpkins. She spoke fluent Ojibway until her grandmother finally had to let her go to C.J. School in Kenora at the age of 8. In spite of the following 10 years of hardship and misery, she was one of the few students to complete grade 9 and start grade 10 before starting a family with her first husband and father of her 7 children, Sam Copenace Sr. She started her working history at C.J. School as the kitchen supervisor. When they finally had to leave C.J., it was to a nomadic lifestyle. Their children never knew it was because they had no home that they grew up at blueberry and wildrice picking camps living in tents and shacks. They lived on fish and wild meat and she always made sure they had a garden. Mom was always so proud that all of her children completed high school, even though life wasn’t always easy. Throughout her life, she always worked. She loved saying that she worked at the Royal Bank and the University of Winnipeg. She was a cleaner! After many years of working and lovingly caring for residents of Kenora Association of Community Living homes, she retired at age 65. She loved learning and was self-taught in sewing and knitting. Her home and kitchen are fondly remembered by many who found a warm meal and refuge surrounded by love. She loved family gatherings and in her later years we had to rent halls to fit everyone, which included great great grandchildren, to celebrate her birthdays and special occasions. She was fiercely independent and it was not easy for her to consent to needing help and care. We will always cherish our time with her which will continue forever. Some will remember her as, “Taa-bye”, her nickname given to her by her grandfather, and others will remember her as the “Happy Hat Lady”. Mom, Kokum, Gitchi kokum, had one last message to leave us with before she could no longer speak, she said, “Shaa-wen-dik” which means, “Love each other”.
Orpha’s family would like to extend loving Miigwetches to the Doctors, Nurses and staff of Seven Oaks General Hospital, Floor 3, Unit 7.
Traditional Wake and customary services will be conducted by Ron Indian-Mandamin. Orpha’s ceremony will be held at Animakee Wah Zhiing 37 community centre (Northwest Angle, Regina Bay) beginning at 8 PM on Thursday April 13, 2023. Traditional ceremony will continue the following day, on Friday morning at the same location.
Miigwetch, **if you are planning to attend, please note that the color red is requested only to be worn by the ceremony conductor and assistants.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.brownfuneralhomekenora.com for the Copenace family.