With profound sadness we announce the passing of Helenne Jones, our loving and devoted mother, on May 09, 2020. She passed away in Castlegar, B.C. at the age of 85, after a brief battle with cancer.
Helenne was born on November 16, 1934 in Koch Siding village, Slocan Park, BC, into the Doukhobor family of Fred and Polly Chursinoff. She loved growing up in this communal village and often talked about her childhood. She had very special memories of her grandmother, a very spiritual person who taught her a great deal about fostering a connection with God and with the Doukhobor community. In later years, as she honed her skills as a writer, Helenne would often use her youth in Koch Siding and her relationship with her grandmother as subject matter.
Helenne spent her early adult years soaking up a variety of interesting experiences. She lived for a while in Alberta, where she worked at a Candy Store. Then, she moved to Nelson, where she worked at Mann’s Drug Store, a job she truly loved. Anyone who knew Helenne can see how a job in which she interacted with the public was a perfect fit; she genuinely enjoyed getting to know people and being able to help them.
Helenne always had a bit of wanderlust, which prompted her to pack up and spend 4 months travelling through Europe. She visited Germany, Israel, Italy and Greece. She was always up for an adventure, whether it meant going through Checkpoint Charlie to tour East Germany or cruising with her girlfriends on the ferries of Greece.
Upon returning to Canada, Helenne lived briefly in Trail, where she worked as a school secretary, before moving to Vancouver to work at Woodwards. She was on a cruise of the Vancouver coastline when a handsome man, Fred Jones, caught her eye. They were married in Brilliant, BC at her parents’ home on September 5. 1971. They lived in North Vancouver and started a family, having two girls, Tamara Susan Jones and Lara Pauline Jones. After a few years, Fred’s work took them to Kamloops, where they settled for more than 25 years.
Even though Helenne was busy raising a family, she had to have other projects on the go. She enjoyed volunteering at the YMCA as a fitness instructor for ten years and developed some close friendships there. Once Tamara and Lara were older, she got her real estate license and worked as an accomplished and trusted realtor at Royal LePage for 10 years. She excelled in this field, winning many company awards and earning the respect of many other realtors in Kamloops. It was through her work in real estate that Helenne was able to attend an Anthony Robbins seminar in Hawaii where, she was proud to report, she participated in several “life mastery challenges” including walking on hot coals and standing on top of a 60 foot pole. However, Helenne experienced some difficult times in Kamloops, too. In 1996, she had a heart attack and a bleed in her brain that was debilitating. Through her courage and tenacity she was able to recover almost completely. During the time she lived in Kamloops she sensed she was losing touch with her Doukhobor roots so in an effort to raise her daughters in the Doukhobor traditions, she worked with other local Doukhobors to start regular prayer meetings and Russian lessons.
In 2003, Helenne returned to her spiritual community and moved back to Castlegar. She quickly became very active in the USCC organization, especially in the Spiritual and Cultural Development Committee, the Kootenay Spiritual Ladies Meetings, the Working Groups on Peace and Justice, Environment and Development, and the Kootenay Ladies Organization. In many of these groups she was not just a contributing member but a driving force, always welcoming and supportive of others. For this and more she was recognized and honored at annual USCC conventions.
Helenne was also very active in the Kootenay Region United Nations Association (KRUNA) participating in walks, rallies, conferences etc dedicated to improving humanity. Often she recorded events with pictures and posters and created collages, some of which are on display at the Brilliant Cultural Center.
What really stood out for Helenne was the Doukhobor prayer service. She found deep spirituality in the psalms and prayers and felt a unity with her grandmother and Doukhobor ancestors. It was participating in Sunday molenya where Helenne felt most at peace and spiritually connected.
Helenne lived her life fully and with great joy. She was so much fun to be around and encouraged people in her life to push themselves and try new experiences. She loved going to the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament, soaking in the hot pool at Ainsworth, playing cards with her sister and friends and hosting family dinners. She gifted so many with cookies, energy balls, salsa and other homemade treats and for years mailed borscht to her daughter in the USA on her birthday.
Helenne is survived by her daughters Tamara (Brian Hottman) and Lara (Alan So), her granddaughter Anya, her sister Mary Arishenkoff, her nephews Leon Arishenkoff, Dan (Elena) Arishenkoff, and niece Margie Davie.
Helenne’s family extends their thanks to Drs Sonuga and Merritt, home support nurses and staff at Talarico, Jordan Wren and Bill Strilaeff, Castlegar Funeral Chapel, Gerry Hoodicoff and crew at Brilliant cemetery, psalmists, JJ Verigan and all those that contributed to ensuring that Helenne got the funeral she deserved under these unprecedented global conditions. Peter Zaytsoff – thank you for your extraordinary guidance.
Helenne was laid to rest May 15, 2020 at the Brilliant Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted by the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (USCC) care of the Iskra Fund or the Verigan Memorial Park Fund.
Postscript: Often seen collecting cans and bottles, Helenne was a ‘binner’ extraordinaire! Proceeds went to United Nations, Food Banks, Doctors Without Borders and other charities.
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