A Photo Tribute Video will be published here very soon. Please check again.
LORI DIANE MCKINNON
April 28, 1969 – August 17, 2023
With heavy hearts, we announce that Lori passed away on August 17, 2023, at the age of 54.
She is survived by her parents Jack and Linda; her husband of 17 years David Hems; children Michael and Kelly Hems; brother Ian (Colleen), a large extended family, and many wonderful friends.
Lori was born in Rainy River, Ontario, but by age 2 moved to Australia where her father pursued his teaching career. Two years later her family returned to Canada and took up residence in Glenboro, where both sets of Grandparents lived. Her family settled in Carman when Lori was 7 and she spent her youth and teenage years there, where she made many lifelong friends. During these years Lori participated in figure skating, Brownies, CGIT, and attended numerous summer camps, including the International Music Camp, which her youngest son Kelly also attended in his youth, and a writer’s camp at Fort Qu'Appelle. Here she developed her life-long passion for writing. She was particularly enthralled by Shakespeare and poetry, and memorised many poems that she would quote often, even to her last days. She also became a proficient writer of poetry and prose, and later in life joined a nighttime creative writing course to advance her passion. During her teenage years she was a fashion trend-setter assembling statement combinations of second-hand clothes from the Carman “Self-Help” Store. These were easy on her parent’s budget but sometimes not on their sense of proper decorum, making her victorious in her efforts not to attend church. It was in these years that Lori began to hone her expertise as a party goer. Her humour, wit, and ease in ensuring people felt comfortable around her made her a very popular person. As a result, her parent’s home became a centre for gatherings. Perhaps this was when Lori developed her incredible teamwork skills as she and her brother, notorious combatants throughour their youth, worked feverishly together to clean things up prior to the return of her parents.
Following her graduation from High School in Carman, Lori moved to Winnipeg to pursue studies in Anthropology at the University of Manitoba, where she continued many friendships and made many more. Her favorite courses were Physical Anthropology and Archeology, which were the closest things to probably her real passion – a mortician. She loved that her knowledge of mortuary practices creeped people out, so she turned it into a favorite party game. Outings with Lori often involved a visit to a cemetery. Once on a trip to England she even dragged the rest of the family to have dinner with her in the London crypt.
During her university summer breaks Lori began to gain practical experience in the cultural heritage field working as a guide on the Nonsuch at the Manitoba Museum and later at the Transcona Museum. Lori was always a person close to her family, even attending and graduating from the University of Manitoba with her mother and brother in the spring of 1992, sharing their special day together. Both as a student and then immediately following the completion of her Bachelor of Arts degree, Lori began working at what started as a series of term jobs with Parks Canada, a place where she would spend much of her career. In the summer of 1991 Lori had the opportunity to work on an archaeological excavation at York Factory This was followed by collections processing, which provided her a background in both archaeology and collections management. The experience gained would serve her well for the rest of her career. Upon completing her term work on York Factory project Lori made a trek to Ottawa, the hub of museums, looking for her big career break. This was not yet to be, and she saved and proudly showed her many rejection letters. She came back to Winnipeg in 1992 to work once again with Parks Canada on the York Factory project. Upon her return she also joined Crossroads International which would have a huge impact on her life. It provided her the opportunity to travel to India in 1995-96 to work in Jamshedpur providing support to local agencies in the battle to overcome poverty.
Upon returning to Canada, Lori had a short stint working at Destination Winnipeg and in 1997 once again returned to Parks Canada where she would spend the next 25 years. Her skills as a team leader, motivator, and a simply wonderful person put her at the forefront of many technical support projects for archaeology including data management. Later, following many changes at Parks Canada she became an important link between people and technology as Parks Canada undertook a major project to consulate its cultural heritage databases. Lori was also a key individual in her later Parks Canada career serving as a cultural heritage advisor to various parks and sites throughout many parts of the country. During her career Lori had a positive effect on nearly every individual she worked with, and it was here where she nurtured many of her closest friendships.
Some of the biggest changes to Lori’s personal life came after returning from India in 1996.
Given the value she placed on family, the growth of her own became important to her. Lori’s relationship with her husband David began to flourish and in 2000 she welcomed Michael, her first of two boys to the world. The year 2004 saw the arrival of her second son Kelly. As a parent she was the emotional rock for her two boys. Amazingly, in concert with her developing career Lori was also the quarterback of the family, scheduling and coordinating the family’s activities and events. In her role as parent Lori served as a hockey mom, a roadie, a scout leader and a board member of the Lord Roberts daycare. She also made efforts to ensure that events included both sides of the family encouraging a healthy and strong bond between extended families whether it was a trip to the lake or a Christmas gathering. The family can attest that when preparing for a vacation at the lake nobody was going hungry and most certainly there were plenty of snacks. It was at the lake where Lori was most at peace, ensuring that we hiked the many trails in Whiteshell Provincial Park. Her caring, nurturing and openness resulted in two young men that filled her with great pride. The characteristics that Lori exuded as both a person and a parent are visible in her offspring.
During the past year Lori began looking for changes in the final stages of her career. In September of 2022 she joined Indigenous Services Canada and focused on facilitating government funding for key infrastructure projects on reserves in Manitoba. Finally in August 2023, less than two days before her death she signed papers to start her dream job at Library Archives Canada. Unfortunately, Library Archives will never experience the joy that Lori brought to every organisation and person with which she was involved. There are no words to express how much she will be missed.
Lori’s family kindly request that friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour her memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.
A celebration of Lori’s life will be held 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 29, 2023 at the Masonic Memorial Temple at 420 Corydon Ave. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation or a charity of your choice.
Memories, Stories and Condolences
Please share a story, photo, memory or condolences for the family by completing the form below and click "comment".