MNO remembers Jo MacQuarrie
March 19, 2019
Métis Elder, nurse, community activist, volunteer and Ottawa Police Chaplain, Jo (Josephine) MacQuarrie died March 13, 2019 after a brief illness.
Jo was a Community Outreach Liaison for the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) in Ottawa and also worked as a Knowledge Translation Consultant.
“I was recognized as a Métis elder by the Metis Nation of Ontario a few years ago,” said Jo in a presentation at Carleton University in 2017. “And I thought I couldn’t be an elder because I wasn’t old enough. But they said, ‘It’s not about age, it’s about wisdom,’ and I thought, I can do that. So I accepted the honour.”
She represented the MNO on a number of boards and committees, including the Ottawa Police Service Spiritual Team (as a Chaplain), Gignul non-profit housing, the Carleton University Elder’s Council and the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition. She provided spiritual guidance for MNO staff and citizens and always provided insights and support during her opening and closing prayers.
“The entire Métis Nation of Ontario is grieving with the family of Jo MacQuarrie and will remember her for providing much needed spiritual and cultural guidance,” stated MNO President Margaret Froh. “Our nation is stronger because of Jo’s work and presence. She will be missed.”
On moving to Ottawa in 1998, Jo quickly became involved in the city’s Indigenous community and health programs. In 2014, she co-authored a study on Ontario Métis having a higher prevalence of asthma with other MNO citizens and staff and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
“Jo MacQuarrie was at the very heart of the Métis community in Ottawa. Not only did she work with organizations throughout the city to increase awareness about Métis culture and traditions, she also worked tirelessly within the community to support Métis youth,” said MNO citizen and former MNO Ottawa Métis Council President Benny Michaud.
“With a quick wit and dry sense of humour, Jo encouraged us to be proud of who we are as Métis people. She was someone who showed us all how to work hard and never take ourselves too seriously. She was deeply loved and will be missed by so many.”
Jo was born and raised in Alberta, daughter of Louis Solway (Salois) and Justine Laboucane. She moved to the Canadian North in 1966 where she spent more than 30 years living throughout the Northwest Territories and present-day Nunavut. A Registered Nurse, with post graduate studies in Psychiatric Nursing and Community Development, she devoted her life to the health and well-being of others.
She founded the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Chapters of the Canadian Mental Health Association, was a social advocate participant in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline hearings, served three terms on Yellowknife City Council, and was Chief Coroner of the Northwest Territories. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Keewatin and Kitikmeot Regional Health Boards and was the first to begin helping Inuit families find their loved ones who had been taken away to southern Canada for health treatment, never to return.
Jo is remembered with love and pride by her four children and spouses Catherine (Clive Tesar), Don, Ken (Yoshie Nozaki) and Doug (Stephanie Carbert), and by her five grandchildren, Alexander, Julia, Mairin, Lindsay and Kouta. The greatest gift our mom and grandma gave us was a deep respect for human beings, in all their diversity.
Her children are very grateful for the excellent and compassionate care she received at the Civic Hospital and at Elizabeth Bruyere, and for the visits and messages of support from her many friends and colleagues.
A celebration of Jo’s life will be organized in Ottawa in late April. She will be buried among family in Camrose, Alta. For those who wish, donations can be made in her name to the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.