September 2, 1934 – October 16, 2021
In loving memory ~ Born on her grandparents homestead in North Battleford Saskatchewan, our mother, June Lillian Sundstrum, (September 2, 1934 to October 16, 2021) moved with her family to Port Alberni in 1945. Mom graduated from ADSS and then left Port Alberni for Victoria College, now University of Victoria, and graduated as a Psychiatric Nurse. Mom worked at Essondale, now Riverview Hospital, when psychiatric patients numbered in the thousands. Mom met our father, Neville Trevor, a coworker, and soon to be, love of her life. Dad worked as an Orderly while completing his degree at the University of British Columbia. Their stories of Essondale could not have been more different. Mom’s stories of the psychiatric patients who were the criminally insane, victims of physical and sexual assaults, mental abuses, and Persons with Down’s Syndrome, etc., were sad, and often heartbreaking, while our father shared only the humour he saw in different situations. Our mother was empathy exemplified.
June Trevor was a remarkable woman. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a preteen during the early 1940s. She said that she was thankful for the Nanaimo doctor who diagnosed her at that time and who stated, “June, you will just have to learn to live with this”- the voices and visions that only she could see and hear. And she did, and for the most part, very successfully, I might add. Mom began our family with three biological children: Mark (Barbara), Lynn, Caroline. Then adopted her deceased sister in law’s ( Jacqueline Toupin nee Trevor) 4 children: Gail Myers (Derek), John Trevor (Francelia), Robin Toupin (Cathy) and Kathleen Toupin Korneluk (Mike), and then, despite family, friends and neighbours very vocal misgivings, went on to have two more biological children: Miles (Mei Ling) and Tamara Langan (Carl), all who she adored. Mom travelled widely and raised children in Canada, France and England. Before he retired, our father was a National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) military Officer and a member of the Canadian contingent of an international Committee for Chemical, Nuclear and Biological warfare. As in all invigorating family debates, our mother’s political and humanitarian views conflicted widely with our father’s views and his NDHQ participation. However, Mom’s public face was ever neutral, graceful and stylish as she held many memorable formal dinner parties and continued to volunteer in the many communities and Church communities she lived and actively participated in to attempt to make the world she lived in, a better place. And she did. Who can forget the juried Trevor Art trophy for inner city Ottawa elementary school students?
For many years, right up until most were adults, her children were unaware of her struggles with schizophrenia and other diagnosis she, during her few and far between hospitalizations, was labeled with. My mother’s mental health deteriorated with significant stresses in her life; the children grew and moved out, and more specifically her marriage breakdown. Mom returned to Port Alberni in 1990 and cared for her mother, Mary Sundstrum, until our Grandmother’s death. Mom then, with the help of our brother Miles, bought her mother’s house from her siblings with the goal of living the rest of her life in the house she was raised in. She almost made it. There came a time with profound hearing loss, physical and mental health crises that she could no longer live on her own. With the help and respectful support of her physician, whom she deeply respected, Doctor Muehlenberg, she moved into Echo Village to end her life with the daily supports she needed from the exceptionally helpful nurses and staff of Echo Village. Thank you, each and every one of you.
In her later years, there were many times that I did not recognize the woman I saw in Port Alberni, as the mother who raised me. And there have been many times I felt sorry that the community, did not know and could not experience the creativity, and artistic vision our mother had so successfully shared with so many people, including Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh who she was introduced to at Buckingham Palace. Alas, life is what it is. I do know my mother was mainly content and still passionate in her endeavours, in her final 31 years in Port Alberni.
In October, 2021, Mom had a stroke which left her blind as well as deaf. She began her final journey then. Although she did not recognize her children who were able to see her, she said, in one of her final lucid moments, she was thankful that all her children became “contributing members of society”. And these, I know, were not the least of her significant contributions to this world we all live in.
Mom was predeceased by her granddaughter Lara Brittany Moyen, her parents Karl and Mary Sundstrum, her husband Neville Trevor, her sisters Joan Frost and Judy Jensen as well as other relatives and friends. Mom leaves behind her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, her beloved brother Arne Sundstrum and family relations too numerous to be named; but all equally loved as the unique individual human beings you all are.
Our family’s goal in sharing a few pieces of my mother’s lived experiences is to inform. To share as she did, that both formal and informal education, faith, community and humanity provide the motivation in this life we share. Hope and a good life is there for us all no matter what our individual experience, diagnosis or health condition may be.
Rest In Peace Mom, we love you.
Memorial and Celebration of Life, an Anglican Church service and Anglican Service to be held at Trinity Anglican and Lutheran Church, 4766 Angus Street, Port Alberni, BC on May 21st, 2022, at 2:00 pm. All who knew her are welcome. Reception to follow in the Hall.
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