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Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell Obituary

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Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell

Fort Macleod, Alberta

October 5, 1933 - March 29, 2024

Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell Obituary

Dr. Lena Heavy Shields – Russell

Ikkináínihki ~ Gentle Singer

October 5, 1933 ~ March 29, 2024

We listen intently to hear one last time a song from our Gentle Singer, to listen for one last song from a lifeline of melodies she instilled in each of us, but we knew mom was tired, and it is now in our hands to sing those songs that we all remember from such a beautiful spirit.

The children, families and friends deeply mourn the passing of Ikkinàìnihki (Gentle Singer) Dr. Lena Heavy Shields-Russell who made her journey to the sacred Sand Hills on March 29, 2024, to be with her loving parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren and husband in eternal rest.

Lena leaves to mourn her children: Norma Russell, Tom (Sandra) Russell, Noreen Wolf Child, Maria Russell, Jim (Joyce) Russell, Lisa Rose (Delvin) No Runner, Karl Russell, Jeremy Russell; Siblings: Jordan Heavy Shields, Barbara Tailfeathers, Steven Heavy Shields, Faye Heavy Shields, Sharon Heavy Shields; Brother-In-Law: Les Healy; Alphonse (Marilyn) Standing Alone, William Singer III, Van Singer, Ivan Singer, Billy (Trish) Wadsworth, Ron Noon, Ted (Lisa) Noon, Dr. Sue Christensen, Lori Bennett, Ron (Melanie) Maurice, Stephen (Diane) Bruised Head, Andrew (Cindy) Many Fingers, Warren Twigg, families & children of the late Gordon & Annie Davis, Malika Crow Eagle & Francis (Judy) First Charger and numerous nephews, nieces and cherished relatives.

Lena was born and raised in a traditional environment with parents Eddie & Adelaide Heavy Shield, grandparents Stephen & Cecillia (Sai’piiaakii) Fox and with Grandmother Kate Spotted Eagle-Three Persons. At a young age, she later resided in the residential school system where she became involved with music and developed a love of literature. She mastered piano playing and after moving beyond the residential school era, she continued with her educational pursuits, eventually attaining her BA and B. Ed in education. Throughout her journey as a teacher, Lena was also a student. She shared her knowledge with elders, teaching the alphabet and how to write, and they in turn, shared words, stories, legends and the ways of a rich Blackfoot way of life. She was blessed to be among those she taught and from those she learned from.

As a knowledgeable member of the community, Lena sat on many committees and boards including the Blood Tribe Police Commission where she was instrumental in the establishment of our own tribal police force. She was also called upon to serve as a senate member of the University of Lethbridge. Her keen insight and strong commitment vocalized her standing as a valued contributor during those moments of debate and resolve. However, it was her love of teaching that kept her in the circle of that understanding of who we are as Blackfoot people. With support from Alberta Education, she developed a grade 7-12 Blackfoot curriculum which is still being used as a teaching tool in the preservation of a language which plays a vital role of a vibrant, rich way of life. She was a vice-principal and principal within the Kainai Board of Education and Westwind School divisions.

Throughout her lifetime, Lena cooked for her children and visitors and helped her husband, the late James Russell Sr. on their horse and cattle ranch in the area known as Where the Bald Eagles Nest. She would knit and sew articles of clothing and always ensure we had homecooked meals for birthdays and special occasions. Lena made her own chokecherry syrup, and she would and preserve fruit for treats during the long winter months. She would prepare yeast bread and buns and even made butter, shaking the can vigorously for what seemed like hours until we smothered our toast with her hard work. In their later years, mom and dad would sit by the window of their patio deck, listening and watching the many birds around the bird-feeders, shrieking and fighting for seeds – they laughingly called that little area the Alice Motel in reference to the part of Cardston where many tribal members lived during times of transition. Lena even sewed a tipi which family members used for years for ceremonial purposes and recreational activities. She was an accomplished painter, sewing, beading, crocheting, playing the guitar, coached softball while in school, calligraphy, member of the Brave Dogs where she camped for many years at the annual Sundance and Indian Day celebrations. She also translated In Flanders Field to Blackfoot which is now housed at the Liberation Museum in Lochem The Netherlands, where it is on display as a tribute to Indigenous veterans who helped in the liberation of their country during WWII.

Lena was so very proud of her children’s accomplishments but was very humble of her own. She was given an Honorary Doctorate in 2006 from the University of Lethbridge for her lifetime dedication and contribution to the growth of education both on-and-off the Kainai Nation. She was also recognized with the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2021, one of only eight Indigenous people to be honored since its inception in 1979. She was also the recipient of an Esquao Award for her valued achievements among her people. Lena also co-authored a book Akaitsinikssiistsi Blackfoot Stories of Old with Inge Genee (Piitaakii) and illustrated by her adopted son William Singer III who also illustrated her Blackfoot Language curriculum books.

There are many, many stories of Lena’s kindness, generous and caring spirit that reached out and affected people during her lifetime. One particular story stands out of how she helped a graduating student out when she found out he didn’t have any money for graduation attire. She picked him up at his home, drove to town and bought him an outfit to wear for his celebration. She always had a way of making others feel safe and important. Lena raised the numerous children she adopted and called so many people she took as her own that we, her children and family, truly apologize if we didn’t include your names. But, please remember, that you all had a special place in her heart.

Dr. Lena was predeceased by: Husband: James Russell Sr; Sons: Robert Russell, Godfrey Red Crow, John Chesley “Ches” Skinner; Daughters: Jackie Maurice, Betty Noon; Grandchildren: Mercedes Delaney-Russell, Roddy Kent No Runner; Grandparents: Peter Heavy Shields, Kate Spotted Eagle-Three Persons; Parents: Eddie & Adelaide Heavy Shields; Aunt: Katie Rabbit; Brothers: Edward & Marion Heavy Shields Jr., Herman & Isabel Heavy Shields, Gordon Heavy Shields, John Heavy Shields; Sisters: Evelyn Healy, Mary Heavy Shields, Baby Teresa Heavy Shields; Special Sisters: Annie Davis, Elizabeth Holy White Man, Camelia Dumont, Elizabeth Scout, Agnes Many Fingers-Singer; Father & Mother-In-Law: Tom & Cecille Russell; Sisters-In-Law: Jane Davis, Fanny Healy, Annie Crazy Boy, Jenny Eagle Child, Charlotte Russell, Catherine Russell; Son-In-Law: Edmund Wolf Child; Brothers-In-Law: Paul & Annette Russell & Children, Lyman Tailfeathers; Daughter-In-Law: Glenda Scout; Nephews: Cameron Coolidge Russell, Sheldon Russell, Rudy & RJ Heavy Shields, Murray Heavy Shields, Brad Heavy Shields, Hayden Heavy Shields, Kenny Weasel Head, Clay Plume, Justin Healy, Lane Tailfeathers, Kelsey Wolf Child, Lynel Tailfeathers, Clement Fox, Gilbert Wolf Plume; Nieces: Ramona Heavy Shields, Jolaine Shade, Cindy Russell, Gina Weasel Head, Taaliyah Heavy Shields, Donna Heavy Shields, Naomi Chief Moon; Grand-Daughter: Abigail Crane Chief.

Beloved family and members of the Fox, Rabbit, Tall Man, Crop Eared Wolf, Many Fingers, Iron Shirt, Young Pine, Twigg, Beebe, Long Time Squirrel, Chief Moon, Little Bear, No Runner, Scout, Willows, Big Head, Wells, Three Persons, Calf Robe, Wolf Plume, Crow, Weasel Fat, Goodstriker, Crow Shoe, Healy, Bull Shields, Jefferson, Spotted Eagle, Small Eyes, Shouting, Weasel Moccasin, Blood, Shot-On-Both-Sides, Cotton, First Charger, Eagle Speaker, Stabs Down, Tallow, Many Grey Horses, Curly Rider, Bird Rattler, Tailfeathers, Low Horn, Many Chief, Cross Child, New Breast, Sweet Grass, Devine, Soop, Hairy Bull, Bare Shin Bone, Across The Mountain, Wadsworth, Big Swallow, Good Dagger, Yellow Wings, Creighton, White Quills, Plume, Shade, Frank, Heavy Head, Quesnelle, Many Bears, Pace, Davis, Eagle Child, Delaney, Yellow Old Woman, English, Smith, Small Legs, McDougal, Potts, Crazy Boy, Weasel Head, Standing Alone, Singer, Hindman, Plaited Hair, Oka, First Rider, Crow Chief, Heavy Runner, Bruised Head, Black Plume, Eagle Plume, Black Water, Red Crow, Day Chief, Rachael Crying Head & Family, Mona Chief Moon & family, Big Throat, Simon, Richards, Marge Little Leaf-Heaven Fire & family and so many other Clan & tribal friends and family members who have made their journey.

 Lena had many children and close friends she accepted as her own; she had so many she cared for. Adoptive Families: Elizabeth Skinner, Denny & Maryanne Wurz, George & Barbara Hofer, Blue Ridge, Stand Off & New Ewelme Colonies, Joyce Healy, Beverly Little Bear, Connie Crop Eared Wolf, Leonard Big Head, Charles Madl, James McNealy & Family, Martin & Elizabeth Vielle, Rosemarie Low Horn, Margaret Potts, Mary Ruth McDougal, Eve Yellow Old Woman, Leo Fox, Martin (late Ruby) Eagle Child.

Special acknowledgement to Dr. Sue Christensen, Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, the Lethbridge Regional Hospital, Cardston Auxiliary Hospital, the kind and caring staff and residents of the Kainai Long Term Care facility and to Karsen Healy, Tasha No Runner, Calvin Williams Jr., Carla Russell and to family, friends & relatives who gave comfort and relief for Lena. Special acknowledgement to Glen Miller, Warrant Officer C.D. To the people of the Levern community, you were all so special to Lena. And to all the sacred societies – thank you for all your prayers, well-wishes and love. Also, to Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani and Gail Stannard who so lovingly embraced Lena during preparation of her esteemed Governor General award and to the staff of The First Choice Credit Union in Cardston. You all will forever have a place in our hearts.

Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell genuinely loved and cared for her people of the Blackfoot Confederacy and beyond. Her tireless work for our people will carry on from those who shared in her passion. We, her family, hope you accept our sincerest apologies if we non-mentioned your name or family. Please know our dear mother Lena truly and deeply had so much love and respect for each and every one of you. May the Giver of Life watch over you and your loved ones as we celebrate the life of a beautiful spirit and our Gentle Singer – Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell.

REST WITH PEACE MOM…

A Wake Service was held on Sunday, April 7, 2024, at Gladstone Hall, Blood Tribe, from 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM.

A Funeral Mass was held on Monday, April 8, 2024, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Blood Tribe, at 11:00 AM.

Following the Funeral Mass, Lena was laid to rest at the Russell Family Plot - Iitsiksikkihkiniooyoo’pi.

Family and friends were welcomed to a feast at Gladstone Hall, following the Graveside Service.

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell hosted by Eden's Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

Dr. Lena Heavy Shields – Russell

Ikkináínihki ~ Gentle Singer

October 5, 1933 ~ March 29, 2024

We listen intently to hear one last time a song from our Gentle Singer, to listen for one last song from a lifeline of melodies she instilled in each of us, but we knew mom was tired, and it is now in our hands to sing those songs that we all remember from such a beautiful spirit.

The children, families and friends deeply mourn the passing of Ikkinàìnihki (Gentle Singer) Dr. Lena Heavy Shields-Russell who made her journey to the sacred Sand Hills on March 29, 2024, to be with her loving parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren and husband in eternal rest.

Lena leaves to mourn her children: Norma Russell, Tom (Sandra) Russell, Noreen Wolf Child, Maria Russell, Jim (Joyce) Russell, Lisa Rose (Delvin) No Runner, Karl Russell, Jeremy Russell; Siblings: Jordan Heavy Shields, Barbara Tailfeathers, Steven Heavy Shields, Faye Heavy Shields, Sharon Heavy Shields; Brother-In-Law: Les Healy; Alphonse (Marilyn) Standing Alone, William Singer III, Van Singer, Ivan Singer, Billy (Trish) Wadsworth, Ron Noon, Ted (Lisa) Noon, Dr. Sue Christensen, Lori Bennett, Ron (Melanie) Maurice, Stephen (Diane) Bruised Head, Andrew (Cindy) Many Fingers, Warren Twigg, families & children of the late Gordon & Annie Davis, Malika Crow Eagle & Francis (Judy) First Charger and numerous nephews, nieces and cherished relatives.

Lena was born and raised in a traditional environment with parents Eddie & Adelaide Heavy Shield, grandparents Stephen & Cecillia (Sai’piiaakii) Fox and with Grandmother Kate Spotted Eagle-Three Persons. At a young age, she later resided in the residential school system where she became involved with music and developed a love of literature. She mastered piano playing and after moving beyond the residential school era, she continued with her educational pursuits, eventually attaining her BA and B. Ed in education. Throughout her journey as a teacher, Lena was also a student. She shared her knowledge with elders, teaching the alphabet and how to write, and they in turn, shared words, stories, legends and the ways of a rich Blackfoot way of life. She was blessed to be among those she taught and from those she learned from.

As a knowledgeable member of the community, Lena sat on many committees and boards including the Blood Tribe Police Commission where she was instrumental in the establishment of our own tribal police force. She was also called upon to serve as a senate member of the University of Lethbridge. Her keen insight and strong commitment vocalized her standing as a valued contributor during those moments of debate and resolve. However, it was her love of teaching that kept her in the circle of that understanding of who we are as Blackfoot people. With support from Alberta Education, she developed a grade 7-12 Blackfoot curriculum which is still being used as a teaching tool in the preservation of a language which plays a vital role of a vibrant, rich way of life. She was a vice-principal and principal within the Kainai Board of Education and Westwind School divisions.

Throughout her lifetime, Lena cooked for her children and visitors and helped her husband, the late James Russell Sr. on their horse and cattle ranch in the area known as Where the Bald Eagles Nest. She would knit and sew articles of clothing and always ensure we had homecooked meals for birthdays and special occasions. Lena made her own chokecherry syrup, and she would and preserve fruit for treats during the long winter months. She would prepare yeast bread and buns and even made butter, shaking the can vigorously for what seemed like hours until we smothered our toast with her hard work. In their later years, mom and dad would sit by the window of their patio deck, listening and watching the many birds around the bird-feeders, shrieking and fighting for seeds – they laughingly called that little area the Alice Motel in reference to the part of Cardston where many tribal members lived during times of transition. Lena even sewed a tipi which family members used for years for ceremonial purposes and recreational activities. She was an accomplished painter, sewing, beading, crocheting, playing the guitar, coached softball while in school, calligraphy, member of the Brave Dogs where she camped for many years at the annual Sundance and Indian Day celebrations. She also translated In Flanders Field to Blackfoot which is now housed at the Liberation Museum in Lochem The Netherlands, where it is on display as a tribute to Indigenous veterans who helped in the liberation of their country during WWII.

Lena was so very proud of her children’s accomplishments but was very humble of her own. She was given an Honorary Doctorate in 2006 from the University of Lethbridge for her lifetime dedication and contribution to the growth of education both on-and-off the Kainai Nation. She was also recognized with the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2021, one of only eight Indigenous people to be honored since its inception in 1979. She was also the recipient of an Esquao Award for her valued achievements among her people. Lena also co-authored a book Akaitsinikssiistsi Blackfoot Stories of Old with Inge Genee (Piitaakii) and illustrated by her adopted son William Singer III who also illustrated her Blackfoot Language curriculum books.

There are many, many stories of Lena’s kindness, generous and caring spirit that reached out and affected people during her lifetime. One particular story stands out of how she helped a graduating student out when she found out he didn’t have any money for graduation attire. She picked him up at his home, drove to town and bought him an outfit to wear for his celebration. She always had a way of making others feel safe and important. Lena raised the numerous children she adopted and called so many people she took as her own that we, her children and family, truly apologize if we didn’t include your names. But, please remember, that you all had a special place in her heart.

Dr. Lena was predeceased by: Husband: James Russell Sr; Sons: Robert Russell, Godfrey Red Crow, John Chesley “Ches” Skinner; Daughters: Jackie Maurice, Betty Noon; Grandchildren: Mercedes Delaney-Russell, Roddy Kent No Runner; Grandparents: Peter Heavy Shields, Kate Spotted Eagle-Three Persons; Parents: Eddie & Adelaide Heavy Shields; Aunt: Katie Rabbit; Brothers: Edward & Marion Heavy Shields Jr., Herman & Isabel Heavy Shields, Gordon Heavy Shields, John Heavy Shields; Sisters: Evelyn Healy, Mary Heavy Shields, Baby Teresa Heavy Shields; Special Sisters: Annie Davis, Elizabeth Holy White Man, Camelia Dumont, Elizabeth Scout, Agnes Many Fingers-Singer; Father & Mother-In-Law: Tom & Cecille Russell; Sisters-In-Law: Jane Davis, Fanny Healy, Annie Crazy Boy, Jenny Eagle Child, Charlotte Russell, Catherine Russell; Son-In-Law: Edmund Wolf Child; Brothers-In-Law: Paul & Annette Russell & Children, Lyman Tailfeathers; Daughter-In-Law: Glenda Scout; Nephews: Cameron Coolidge Russell, Sheldon Russell, Rudy & RJ Heavy Shields, Murray Heavy Shields, Brad Heavy Shields, Hayden Heavy Shields, Kenny Weasel Head, Clay Plume, Justin Healy, Lane Tailfeathers, Kelsey Wolf Child, Lynel Tailfeathers, Clement Fox, Gilbert Wolf Plume; Nieces: Ramona Heavy Shields, Jolaine Shade, Cindy Russell, Gina Weasel Head, Taaliyah Heavy Shields, Donna Heavy Shields, Naomi Chief Moon; Grand-Daughter: Abigail Crane Chief.

Beloved family and members of the Fox, Rabbit, Tall Man, Crop Eared Wolf, Many Fingers, Iron Shirt, Young Pine, Twigg, Beebe, Long Time Squirrel, Chief Moon, Little Bear, No Runner, Scout, Willows, Big Head, Wells, Three Persons, Calf Robe, Wolf Plume, Crow, Weasel Fat, Goodstriker, Crow Shoe, Healy, Bull Shields, Jefferson, Spotted Eagle, Small Eyes, Shouting, Weasel Moccasin, Blood, Shot-On-Both-Sides, Cotton, First Charger, Eagle Speaker, Stabs Down, Tallow, Many Grey Horses, Curly Rider, Bird Rattler, Tailfeathers, Low Horn, Many Chief, Cross Child, New Breast, Sweet Grass, Devine, Soop, Hairy Bull, Bare Shin Bone, Across The Mountain, Wadsworth, Big Swallow, Good Dagger, Yellow Wings, Creighton, White Quills, Plume, Shade, Frank, Heavy Head, Quesnelle, Many Bears, Pace, Davis, Eagle Child, Delaney, Yellow Old Woman, English, Smith, Small Legs, McDougal, Potts, Crazy Boy, Weasel Head, Standing Alone, Singer, Hindman, Plaited Hair, Oka, First Rider, Crow Chief, Heavy Runner, Bruised Head, Black Plume, Eagle Plume, Black Water, Red Crow, Day Chief, Rachael Crying Head & Family, Mona Chief Moon & family, Big Throat, Simon, Richards, Marge Little Leaf-Heaven Fire & family and so many other Clan & tribal friends and family members who have made their journey.

 Lena had many children and close friends she accepted as her own; she had so many she cared for. Adoptive Families: Elizabeth Skinner, Denny & Maryanne Wurz, George & Barbara Hofer, Blue Ridge, Stand Off & New Ewelme Colonies, Joyce Healy, Beverly Little Bear, Connie Crop Eared Wolf, Leonard Big Head, Charles Madl, James McNealy & Family, Martin & Elizabeth Vielle, Rosemarie Low Horn, Margaret Potts, Mary Ruth McDougal, Eve Yellow Old Woman, Leo Fox, Martin (late Ruby) Eagle Child.

Special acknowledgement to Dr. Sue Christensen, Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, the Lethbridge Regional Hospital, Cardston Auxiliary Hospital, the kind and caring staff and residents of the Kainai Long Term Care facility and to Karsen Healy, Tasha No Runner, Calvin Williams Jr., Carla Russell and to family, friends & relatives who gave comfort and relief for Lena. Special acknowledgement to Glen Miller, Warrant Officer C.D. To the people of the Levern community, you were all so special to Lena. And to all the sacred societies – thank you for all your prayers, well-wishes and love. Also, to Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani and Gail Stannard who so lovingly embraced Lena during preparation of her esteemed Governor General award and to the staff of The First Choice Credit Union in Cardston. You all will forever have a place in our hearts.

Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell genuinely loved and cared for her people of the Blackfoot Confederacy and beyond. Her tireless work for our people will carry on from those who shared in her passion. We, her family, hope you accept our sincerest apologies if we non-mentioned your name or family. Please know our dear mother Lena truly and deeply had so much love and respect for each and every one of you. May the Giver of Life watch over you and your loved ones as we celebrate the life of a beautiful spirit and our Gentle Singer – Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell.

REST WITH PEACE MOM…

A Wake Service was held on Sunday, April 7, 2024, at Gladstone Hall, Blood Tribe, from 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM.

A Funeral Mass was held on Monday, April 8, 2024, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Blood Tribe, at 11:00 AM.

Following the Funeral Mass, Lena was laid to rest at the Russell Family Plot - Iitsiksikkihkiniooyoo’pi.

Family and friends were welcomed to a feast at Gladstone Hall, following the Graveside Service.

To share a memory or send a condolence gift, please visit the Official Obituary of Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell hosted by Eden's Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

Events

Event information can be found on the Official Obituary of Dr. Lena Heavy Shields - Russell.