May 9, 1956 – May 24, 2021
Our beloved husband, father, papa, brother, uncle, nephew and friend took his last breath and began his final journey on May 24, 2021 at the young age of 65 years old. He fought so hard to survive but Covid proved to be a formidable adversary.
Mourning his passing is his wife Betty Ann Soldier, children Jason (Dayna), Stacey, Sandra, brother Lloyd (Candace), sisters Leanne and Ashley, godson Edward Neepin, auntie Hazel, uncles Eddie, Ron and Fred, mother-in-law Elsie Cameron, sisters-in-law Joyce, Rita, Ruth and Claudia, brothers-in-law Tom, Bob and Butch, grandchildren Patrick, Taryn, Jordan, Kaleigh, Tyler, Brody, Brendan, Michelynne, Kaelan, Brennan, Tristan, Connor, Lindsay and Murrin, great-grandchildren Amiya, Lucas, Sawyer, Reylo, Easton and Caspian and many friends and extended family in Manitoba and throughout Canada.
Larry was predeceased by his mother Beatrice Mousseau, his father Alfred Mousseau and his brother Brian, as well as his uncles Robert, Vernon, Lawrence and James, auntie Mary and his grandparents Harry and Mary Soldier, who both played a huge role in his life.
Larry was born on May 9, 1956 in Swan Lake, Manitoba. He grew up on the reserve and attended school in Mariapolis and Pilot Mound, Manitoba. He was fiercely proud to be from Swan Lake First Nation. He was the first person from his community to graduate from high school and to be accepted to university, attending the University of Winnipeg. He kept the clipping from the local newspaper of their story about his accomplishment, a clipping his daughter had copied and framed to keep in her office. He had many jobs since then, each one a stepping stone to the next, always learning and making his mark along the way. He was proud to have served his community as Chief which led him to other business opportunities. He most recently worked with his son in the family business, calling himself a semi-retired shopkeeper.
He grew up with the love of his life, Betty Ann. Though some of her memories of him from their childhood are of exasperation “he and his uncles used to tease me and he was so skinny and dorky” they had a deep love that waxed and waned and was tested throughout the years of marriage and occasional hardship but always prevailed. She was with him at the end, holding his hand.
Larry was given an offer of a job in Thompson in 1978 and went up by himself to test the waters. His first night he slept in his car because he was too shy to admit he didn’t have enough money to pay for a place to stay. His boss heard about it the next morning and made sure to get him settled into a hotel. He excelled at his job and shortly after, Betty Ann and his two children Jason and Stacey, joined him.
Without family around for support, Larry and Betty Ann had to rely on each other and build a life far from the familiar. It was a life full of love and laughter, ribbing each other, sports and tough lessons for the kids. He made sure they were working by age 12 and would not accept anything less than the best effort in everything they did.
He was saddened to leave Thompson in 1994 to move back to Winnipeg. He was deeply involved with the community, as a city councillor, the manager of the Norman Northstars and the Executive Director of the Friendship Centre. He played hockey in the old timer’s league and played baseball for the Bandits in the slo-pitch league. He coached Jason’s hockey teams for years. He always spoke fondly of his time there and the friendships he made.
His children will miss him every day of their lives. There is a crater of empty space where their hearts are right now. He gave them all the tools to live a meaningful and impactful life and though they feel rudderless at the idea they will be without his guidance, they will keep moving forward. They would not trade all the years they got to have with him for anything, even if the trade off was a long safe life without him. In their successes, he was the man behind the curtain making things happen. In their troubled times, his voice was the one they could count on to help them work through what needed to be done. They have so much gratitude for his examples of strength and resilience, he came into this world with nothing but his wits and his guts and he was able to create a beautiful life for himself and his family.
His grandchildren and great-grandchildren were his greatest joy. Whether it was driving and attending endless gymnastics competitions, hockey games and practices, soccer and basketball tournaments and dance recitals, he was a constant and proud presence. He was always interested in their stories and activities, paying close attention to the smallest detail. It was important to him that he be a stable and steady influence for the kids and that they always knew that papa would keep his promises. The last few years he and Betty Ann were guardians to Lucas and Amiya and it was a whirlwind of activity that they had to relearn how to manage. He savored having breakfast with Amiya in the mornings and getting her off to school and endless hockey games in the basement and in the yard with Lucas.
Larry was an avid Jets fan and he would have been so excited and proud of his “boys” in this year’s first series. He went to every game he could, generously sharing his season tickets with his friends and staff as well as the friends of his kids and grandchildren. He donated tickets to Swan Lake First Nation and other organizations so as many people as possible could have the experience of some “damn good hockey.”
This was the epitome of his character. He was generous to a fault and would lend a hand to anyone who asked and oftentimes to people who didn’t. He was so kind and had a wry sense of humour. If you were lucky enough to be teased by him, you would be the first to burst out laughing. Every year prior to Covid, he would hand out money at the Swan Lake First Nation off-reserve Christmas dinner for the door prizes and his kids would tease him that he needed a fedora and a fur coat draped around his shoulders like an old style mafia don.
The family would like to give heartfelt thanks to Pamela Smith, Patrick’s mother, for her swift flight to be by our side as well as his brother Lloyd who has been our tower of strength. Many thanks to Chief Francine Meeches and all the community members who continue to send their best wishes and condolences. He would be humbled by all of the people who have reached out to his family to share their memories.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the medical staff at HSC and St. Boniface ICU units, especially Mark, Wendy, Jasmine and Nickayla who offered comfort in our darkest hours. They all valiantly tried to save his life and will forever be in our hearts.
The traditional wake and ceremony will be held at the Cultural Centre at Swan Lake First Nation. Due to Covid restrictions, the ceremony will look very different. The wake will be held on Friday, May 28, 2021 and a private service and burial for immediate family will be on Saturday May 29, 2021. The feast will commence at noon for people to come and go. Covid protocols will be in effect so masks must be worn and social distancing must be observed.
Honourary Pallbearers are Andy Boulard, Desmond Gould, Bob Green, George Neepin, Gilbert Mabon, Errol Wilson, Larry Penner, Bruce Hickey and Jac Froese, Damian Tukundum, Darren Soldier and Craig Soldier.
In lieu of flowers, a donation made in his name to Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre would be gratefully accepted.
Adam’s Funeral Home of Notre Dame, Manitoba in care of arrangements. Phone 204-248-2201. To view this obituary and leave condolences, please visit www.afh.ca
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Larry Soldier, please visit our floral store.