On Monday, October 31, 2022 at 5 p.m. iikwetant, Caroline Comegan from Big Grassy FN,after a lengthy and painful illness, peacefully passed away with her husband by her side in Rainy River Long Term Care Facility.
Caroline is survived by her husband Albert Comegan Jr, Aunt Victoria Handorgan. Cousins Rose Tuesday, Arlene Indian, Albert Handorgan, Pat Handorgan, (Virginia) Robert Handorgan (Joanne), and numerous nieces and nephews.
Caroline Comegan was born, on November 4th, 1941 to John Handorgan Sr & Bella Begg nee (Handorgan) her Brothers John, Peter & George. Caroline was raised by her grandparents, William & Marie Handorgan
Caroline was predeceased by her beloved son Garnet Wayne Comegan who graduated with a Juris Doctorate Law Degree from Hamelin School of Law in St Paul MN, Garnet also graduated with Associates Degree in Communications from BYU Provo Utah. Garnet was also a member of the Laminite Generation while attending school at BYU, and completed a mission with the Mormon church.
Mother Caroline was very proud of his accomplishments, after being together for 3 years Caroline and Albert legally wed on January 12, 1965.
William & Marie raised Caroline & her brothers after the passing of their father John Sr, their mother was unable to care for the children & had requested John’s parents to take care of them. The children were raised out at Naongashiing during the summer months & spent their winter months on the mainland.
The children were taught how to survive out on the lake by teaching them how to hunt birds (ducks, partridges, how to hunt deer & rabbits also to fish both in the summer & winter. During the summer, the family was taught how to prepare for the winter months, by storing the berries that were picked and how to smoke the fish that was caught. How to prepare the deer meat for the winters ahead, Wild rice picking was also taught and how the community would come together during the fall
Logging was also a way of life, living with their grandparents gave Caroline a sense of belonging, through the tragedy of losing her father at a very young age, Caroline was given the opportunity to grow up knowing her family & the place where they came from. She was taught from an early age how to be a good worker, and how to take care of a family of her own.
The loss of their father meant that growing up without the love and support from her mother, she had her gramma, who ensured that Caroline was able to go out in this world and know how to manage life on her own.
Caroline and her siblings attended Residential School, Caroline attended Cecilia Jeffery in Kenora for 7 years, at times Caroline was unable to come home for Christmas since the school was located along the northern shores of Kenora on Lake of the Woods. Most families didn’t own a vehicle, and that was the case for Caroline’s grampa William. Caroline also attended day school for a period of 1 year here in Big Grassy.
Caroline met her future husband Albert Comegan JR here at the day school in Big Grassy, both were in the same grade. The 1 year she spent here at the day school would be her final year attending.
Caroline’s work life began at a very young age, her gramma “GO_GO” as she was known taught her to work at home, clean the house, washing the laundry for the family. Cooking and how to make the Bannock, Caroline’s Bannock, and her ability to make her Bannock super soft were delicious.
Gramma Go-Go taught her how to look after a home. In the summer she would leave home to work at a tourist camp. Where she worked as a maid, cleaning cabins & also as a waitress.
Pay at the time was $2 per day, she once told Albert, she got more in tips than she did in being paid her wages!
Caroline’s work during the summer months enabled her to collect UIC stamps, she applied for UIC in the fall and collect that throughout the winter, she told Albert that her UIC was $ 30 every 2 weeks. With the UIC, she would help provide food for the family, she always wanted to help her Grandparents.
Caroline remembered being very poor, owning 2 sets of clothes in order to change she would have to wash her other clothes she just took off to be able to wear a clean set tomorrow.
It was this process Caroline followed in her young life
Caroline started dating Albert, her future husband and after spending 3 years getting to know him, they moved in together. Both Albert & Caroline being 20 years old and during this time period of their new life together, they had their only child, Garnet Wayne.
Caroline was a, stay-at-home mom until Garnet left for higher education, she was a good teacher to Garnet, Always had cooked meals ready for her family. At times they barely had any food to cook, but she always kept her home clean & tidy.
Caroline was a good worker, she assisted in clearing the yard into what it is today. After Garnet had left home, she started to work again. She worked as a teacher’s aide at Morson School for a number of years.
And when Big Grassy needed someone to teach the Anishinabe language, she applied and was awarded the position. She was their teacher for many years
Every summer she would travel to Thunder Bay, where attended Lakehead University for 4 summers and was awarded a letter of permanent standing from the province of Ontario, which allowed her to teach in Public schools anywhere in Ontario.
Caroline taught at Bergland school, during this same time period she also taught the language to Manitou children who attended school in Stratton. Spending half the day at each school. She eventually left Bergland and Stratton to work in Big Island where she eventually retired from teaching.
Caroline spent 25 years teaching the language, her other employment included being a member of the council for Big Grassy for a number of years.
Caroline would often join Albert in commercial fishing, she would be helping Albert with the net cleaning, gutting, and filleting the fish. She would also join him during the rice-picking season.
Throughout her life, Caroline learned from her brothers the art of playing the guitar. Singing. Dancing as well as being able to play the violin.
Albert & Caroline loved to travel, they traveled to many places throughout the USA, traveling by car to where ever they visited, they had bins of photos to show where they went.
Caroline loved spending her free time playing bingo or pressing buttons on VLTs.
This last year was difficult for her, she had begun to feel sick again, she always smiled for you though.
Not all of us were fortunate to listen to her play or sing. She gave us what she wanted to teach us. She was a patient person, who didn’t turn her back on you for not listening.
This life she and Albert created for themselves came from hard work and being able to listen to each other, respect each other, and take care of each other. Is something that we can all learn from. They were married for and together as partners for 60 years.
she would assist Albert in all aspects of what needed to be done without complaint. She was a hard worker yet a gentle person, she had no ill will on how she had grown up, she was always happy
Caroline, we all love you and will surely miss you
You’re with Garnet now as well as your siblings
We would like to Thank Rainy River Long Term Care, Rainy River Hospital & the staff that took care of Caroline