Norma Jaye Fredrickson, wife, mother, sister, scholar, teacher, friend and inspiration to so many, passed away at her home in Edmonton on May 9, 2019.
Predeceased by her father and mother, Jaye is survived by her husband Ian McKay, her son Lachlan, her sister Joanne (Allan), her brother Walter, her sisters-in-law Roberta (Elmer) and Shiela (Norman), her nieces Ashley, Laura and Christine, her nephews Robert and Kevin, and her many close friends.
Norma Jaye Fredrickson was born December 10, 1950 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Her mother, Lois Dawn (Tomes) Fredrickson travelled from the family fish camp on the north end of Lake Winnipegosis to be with her own mother for the birth and, as a result, Jaye entered the world at the Portage la Prairie Hospital. She was named for her father’s only sister Norma Sigridur and for her mother’s favourite Auntie Jay. Shortly after her birth, Lois took her little red-headed bundle back up the lake and introduced Jaye to the people and places that would be her childhood home.
Jaye’s father was Bui Oscar Fredrickson, whose family had been engaged in commercial fishing on Lake Winnipegosis since the late 1800’s. For her first six years, the Fredrickson family’s life was regulated by the fishing seasons—which meant that they spent the fall season (July to September) at Channel Island, the winter season (October to February) at Oscar’s Point in the north basin of Lake Winnipegosis, and the rest of the year in town , in the village of Winnipegosis. Jaye’s lifelong love of water—lakes, rivers, oceans—began there and then…playing on the lakeshore, swimming before she could walk, learning to skate sliding the wooden fish boxes across the ice. As soon as her small hands could grasp the seaming needles used to string the mesh of the fishing nets, she was given her first job, and she spent countless hours preparing the needles by filling them with twine. Jaye also quickly mastered the art of picking pickerel cheeks and fish livers from the daily catch… skills she maintained all of her life.
With the family’s move to the Village, Jaye had her first experience of school and the classroom, which she loved absolutely from the very start. Her academic ability was already evident. Her mother had been her teacher up the lake and the classroom quickly became an environment in which she thrived. New ideas, math problems, creating stories and poetry, globes of the world, encyclopedias with boundless information—Jaye absorbed it all. The other very important part of school and of Village life was the friendships she developed. She had a remarkable talent for making friends, and an even more remarkable talent for maintaining those friendships over time and distance. When she celebrated her 60th birthday just a few years ago, many friends from all of the ages and stages of her life came to celebrate with her, including 20 from her high school and grade school days—even the musical entertainment was provided by a group of her high school friends, the HomeTown Band. ( She enjoyed her status as their #1 groupie!)
Along with school-related things, year-book committees and student council, Jaye participated fully in all that the Village had to offer a young girl. She was a Brownie, a Girl Guide, a Sunday school teacher and member of the United Church Choir. She loved to skate and to curl and volunteered at a range of community events. She became a teenager in the era of the Beatles and, with her friends Cookie and Bev, spent many happy hours practising song lyrics and dance moves and experimenting with make-up and mini-skirts. Barry, Jake, Don, Fred and so many others were with them to enjoy rounds of ball tournaments, country dances and school socials. In these high school years, Jaye met Rudy Goossen, whose family lived on a farm near the Village, but who was attending a private high school several hundred miles away. Jaye and Rudy became an item, a relationship that continued through their university years and they married in 1971.
Jaye excelled in all subjects, always, but in high school her passion for history and geography soon emerged. Following graduation from the Winnipegosis Collegiate Institute, she attended The University of Winnipeg (her mother’s alma mater), choosing to major in History. When she graduated with the B.A.(Hons.) degree in 1973, she was awarded the Gold Medal for the highest standing in History and named a student of highest distinction. Jaye had also pursued her interest in languages as a part of her course of studies and she was the recipient of the Swiss Ambassador Book Award for distinction in German Studies. Finally, she was one of 100 Canadian students to be awarded a Canada Council Scholarship to support studies for the Master of Arts at the university of her choosing.
Jaye spent two of her university summers working in a bakery in Germany, which gave her an opportunity to begin to explore Europe, to develop a fluency in German and the chance to meet her grade school pen pal Ulrike, with whom she developed a lifelong friendship. Jaye and Rudy spent 1973-74 in Toronto where she again worked in a bakery (decorating cakes, another skill she maintained always!) while Rudy studied meteorology at the U of T. In 1974, they returned to Winnipeg. Jaye entered the Masters program at The University of Manitoba. She graduated with the Master of Arts in History in 1975, with full honours and a Commonwealth Scholarship offering her the opportunity to pursue further graduate studies in London, England. Jaye spent 1975-76 as a Researcher with the Manitoba Historic Resources Branch, writing information booklets on notable people and events ( a number of the booklets are still in print ), and preparing for her doctoral studies in London. Her primary passion and area of interest and expertise was Fur Trade History. The City of London still housed the Archives of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Jaye enrolled in the PhD program at the University of London which afforded the opportunity to work with Dr. Glynwyr Williams, renowned expert in the field. She rented a flat in Bloomsbury near the University and several short blocks from the British Museum. Her studies and her further exploration of Europe during that period proved seminal events in her life. After completing her academic course work, Jaye returned to Canada to work as a Researcher with the National Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of History). She took up full time residence in Winnipeg once again in 1977. She and Rudy were divorced in 1978. It was at this juncture that Jaye began a new phase of her career, joining Canada’s grain industry.
From 1977-80, Jaye worked as the Communications Officer for the Canadian International Grains Institute, an organization created to market Canadian grain globally. Her work took her to new regions, travelling extensively and serving as host to numerous visiting delegations of potential foreign buyers of Canada’s grain. During this period, she continued as consultant and guest curator with the National Museum, authoring The Covenant Chain: Indian Ceremonial and Trade Silver (1980) and assisting in the production of the Museum’s national travelling exhibition on the same theme — the importance of silver to the Fur Trade and to building relationships with First Nations.
In 1980, Jaye was recruited by Cargill Limited to be their Corporate Affairs Manager. Serving in this capacity while pursuing administrative studies on a part-time basis, she graduated with her second Masters degree, the MBA from the University of Manitoba in 1984.
Cargill named Jaye as Manager of their Seed Division in 1984 and she relocated to Paris, Ontario to run Cargill’s Seed Plant in nearby Princeton. In Paris, she purchased The Homestead , a lovely property on the Grand River constructed by one of the town’s eminent pioneers—finding the way to pursue her passion for heritage while her work took her in ever-new directions. Returning to Winnipeg in 1988, she was appointed founding general manager of Agri-tec Canada Inc., a strategic alliance of 16 companies that specialized in grain handling and storage development in international markets. International travel was a primary dimension of her role. Jaye introduced the consortium to markets in China, the Middle East, the (then) USSR and Kazakhstan, and her stories from this period are legend: experiencing China before it opened its borders to foreigners; hosting a reception in Moscow where a performance by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet coincided with her sales trip, and she invited the dancers in the back door of her company’s event so that they could eat something before their performance, food being in short supply in the city; and standing in the Al-Ghazil Bazaar in Baghdad when the First Gulf War erupted.
Jaye chose to take her career in a new direction in late 1990 when she joined the Government of Canada’s Department of Western Economic Diversification. Jaye was posted first to Saskatoon as WED’s Director of Operations, then to Ottawa as Director of Procurement and Industrial Benefits and, ultimately, to Edmonton as Director General, Strategic Initiatives and Planning. In Ottawa on October 26, 1991 her beloved son, Lachlan was born. With their move to Edmonton one year later, they made their home in the Riverbend area of the City of Edmonton, quickly putting down roots and becoming part of a growing community. One of Jaye’s colleagues at WED was her future husband, Ian McKay. Ian quickly became an integral part of her life and that of her young son and they soon became a family. Jaye and Ian were married in 1997 in their home in Riverbend.
Jaye always maintained a strong interest in returning to academic pursuits. She welcomed every opportunity for professional development in her work life, but the lure of full-time study was always with her. Consistently intrigued with language and culture, it was at this juncture that Jaye chose to pursue formal study of Teaching English as a Second Language. She graduated with the Master of Education in TESL from The University of Alberta in 2000, thus earning her third Masters degree. She took the position of Director of Language Services for the Edmonton Centre for Newcomers in 2001. In this role, she led the expansion of their offerings into workplaces and communities throughout the city.
In 2003, Jaye joined the faculty of NorQuest College as Dean of Language Training and Adult Literacy. One of her major initiatives as Dean was to launch a new ESL program that allowed the College to offer content-specific ESL training for different career streams. Appointed Vice President Academic in 2004, Jaye established NorQuest as a national leader in ESL and Intercultural Education, among her many other achievements. She launched the College’s first formal academic plan, expanded diploma and certificate offerings and introduced centres for excellence with an applied research capacity in five priority areas: intercultural education, learner supports, Aboriginal learning, print media technology and continuing care education.
In 2008, Jaye was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). She continued in her role on a full-time basis until 2010, developing methods for managing both at work and at home. When work was no longer an option and with her husband Ian’s unwavering support, Jaye established a program of self-managed care that enabled her to continue to enjoy a high quality of life and in her own home. She maintained ongoing correspondence with her large international network of friends and colleagues, taught herself chess which she played on line daily, enjoyed book club and other opportunities to be with her friends, travelled with her two siblings and her family through the Panama Canal, the Baltics, Maui, Texas and Oregon, and across the Prairies numerous times to her childhood home in Winnipegosis. In accordance with her wishes Jaye passed away at home, and she left us on the afternoon of Thursday, May 9th.
Jaye’s family invites friends and colleagues to join in celebrating Jaye’s life on Saturday, June 8th from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Faculty Club of the University of Alberta, 11435 Saskatchewan Drive, Edmonton. Toasts, tributes and remembrances will begin at 3:15 p.m. We hope that you can be with us.