Jay Gatsby

Lynn Hainsworth

Saskatoon Sk.
- September 17, 2017

Scroll down the page for the Obituary, Funeral Details, and Condolence Messages.


Lynn Shirley Hainsworth passed away peacefully on September 17th, 2017. She is survived by her daughter Alexa, and her partner Cameron Mellville, who looked after her during her illness; her mother Shirley, sister Valerie (Joe Natale) brother Barry (Joan Lokken), and many wonderful friends. Lynn was a voracious reader from the time she began school to close to her end. Books fuelled her imagination and desire for social change and life with a bit of adventure. As a young woman she travelled, mostly alone when women did not really venture solo to North Africa and India. Between trips, Lynn volunteered with social justice groups such as OXFAM - Canada and environmental groups where she supported the moratorium on the MacKenzie Valley Pipeline. She prepared food for First Nation protestors - she was not a cook and the meals were not a hit. Lynn was an independent person and accomplished a few firsts for women by being among the first women hired to work on Keystone Fire Tower in the Bow Forest in Alberta, where she read the Russians non-stop for four months. She lived in the bush in a trailer working on a game farm and lived in a tipi in northern Alberta working on an archaeology dig. - A hermit at heart she always knew that she had to return to the city to bring about change. Her travels and work with the environmental group - Save Tomorrow Oppose Pollution informed her of the need for systemic change and a battle against capitalism. She switched from reading fiction to reading biographies of revolutionaries and the history of the American trade union movement. She credits her knowledge of Samuel Gompers with her finding the first good job of her life - working with OXFAM - Canada where she learned many skills from Michael Murphy, and from the newly -arrived Chilean refugee community who taught her Marxism. Lynn was not a diplomat, nor did she embrace compromise. As a loner, she knew that she could endure the approbation that comes with non compromise in order that compromises that occur in a democratic venue would be more effective. She held the line and she was a “fighter” After her daughter was born, she became active in her neighbourhood. She gave herself credit for saving Mayfair Pool twice (!) and tackling the City of Saskatoon for turning her neighbourhood into a sacrifice zone where bars and pollution flourished; while recreation and green space were lacking. She initiated many community - building activities such as tree-banding. Since she was a gardener - her recreation and her meditation, she initiated a fall food fair. She helped many people start their own gardens and became one of the first people to garden on the boulevards and alleys, following the lead of Mrs.Koval, a neighbour in her 90’s. Lynn was known as a guerrilla gardener, People asked “isn’t that illegal?” Now its accepted practice. It was a rule worth breaking. Lynn was involved in many social justice campaigns including working against racism and apartheid, anti-GST taxes, ever-increasing police budgets, the damn police plane in particular, and school privatization and corporatization. She was fearless about approaching people personally to challenge them as to why they left their cars and buses idling. She even dove into unlocked cars to shut the ignitions off. She was almost constantly on community boards of directors, from the Friendship Inn to Crocus Co-op. Lynn changed or softened somewhat when she was hired by the Saskatoon Peace Coalition to organize several groundbreaking peace conferences. She didn't always act peacefully, but she became more gentle and listened more. One of her best friends Eleanor Knight encouraged her to listen more and recognize that there can be a variety of solutions or points of view. Her friend Sylvia Pusch encouraged her to be kind, an invaluable lesson for all of us. She was grateful to her friends, many unnamed here, who absolutely cured her of her hermit tendencies. She read and re-read her books in her final years, 1984 was one of her favourites which she read many times. She bloomed in that final year - and perhaps like her garden - had the best year of her life and hopefully spread some seeds of peace in her community and in the hearts of her friends. She truly loved life and was grateful for her time on earth.

Funeral Details

The Celebration of Lynn’s life will be held on Saturday, September 23rd at 3:00 p.m. from Saskatoon Funeral Home with Sue Panattoni as Celebrant.

Condolence Messages

Steve & Karen Bezanson

Written October 01, 2017 from Halifax, NS

I was so saddened to hear today of Lynn's passing. Although it has been more than 40 years since I last saw my dear cousin it seems like only yesterday. Our sincere condolences to Aunt Shirley, Alexa, Cameron, Barry & Joan and Val & Joe.

Vicky Scheltgen

Written September 29, 2017 from Ladysmith, British Columbia

I cannot think of Lynn without hearing her wonderful laugh, coming easily and often. Lynn was a huge supported to me in my non-traditional job choice as a carpenter and as my birth coach when I gave birth to my son. I remember in my weakened state watching her taking control at the hospital telling the nursing staff they were not going to hook me up to a machine that wasn’t in my birth plan. She was an amazing advocate on a personal level as well as for anything she felt passionate about. I will miss her.

Patricia SKy

Written September 25, 2017 from Vancouver, BC

Lynn has been on my mind since I heard of her passing 3 days ago, so I feel a need to add my tribute... my heart tells me she meant a lot to me. I knew her well when our daughters were babies, and before, in the Oxfam / social justice community. I was fortunate to enjoy her hugely welcoming house parties, and tea in her garden before I left Saskatoon. Her wonderful and unique character is well described by her close colleagues and family - I will simply say she was immensely adorable, admirable, and her absence is deeply felt. Too soon, too soon.

Puck Janes and Bill Robb

Written September 25, 2017 from Ottawa, ON

Lynn, the Magnificent! Her smile, her laugh/giggle, her bright eyes and that big personality which was so engaging and charming. Her garden and home were welcoming and beautiful. Lynn wore the best hats. As long as we knew Lynn she was an international and local activist. She did excellent work with volunteers. We have to wonder how many people became passionate about community justice issues as a direct result of their working beside Lynn. Our condolences to Alexa, family, and Lynn's many close friends.

Roxanne Cave

Written September 24, 2017 from Vancouver, BC - British Columbia

I learned about Lynn's death last night at a social event from my dear friend and former Oxfam colleague Miriam Palacios. It took me back to the mid-to late 80's & early 90's at Oxfam where Lynn welcomed me as a sister and modelled how to be many important things all at once with great heart & flair: a loving, working mother; fierce advocate & activist; and good human being. Last night, in the midst of lives being lived fully - women dancing; shared laughter & politics; wine & good food- it felt right to remember Lynn & to raise a glass to her memory. My condolences to her family & all who loved her.

Michael Murphy

Written September 23, 2017 from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

This is the tribute that I offered today at Lynn's wonderful sendoff.

It’s good to be here with Lynn’s family and so many of her friends as we celebrate her memorable life.
I must give you two advisories. The first is that I may have to take a deep breath from time to time as I talk to you about Lynn. The second is that, at the end of my tribute, I’m going to say loudly “Viva Lynn!” I hope that you will respond with an even louder “Viva!” Let’s try it now.
Viva Lynn! (Enthusiastic response!)
Thank you.
As I wrote up this tribute, I felt that I should have given Lynn a look at a draft some weeks ago. She would have laughed, set me straight on a few facts, suggested that there might be omissions, and told me that I had overdone the praises a bit. But that’s hindsight.
I knew Lynn as a colleague, as an activist and as a dear friend. Let me tell you a little bit about each of those.
I first met Lynn in Edmonton. She was working as a waitress in an Edmonton café and she was a volunteer with the OXFAM-Canada local committee there. OXFAM is a non-governmental organization that helps to finance community projects in the Global South as well as doing educational work aimed at making Canadians aware of issues of poverty and oppression in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Canada. When a job came open in Saskatoon, Lynn applied and was hired as one of the three OXFAM-Canada Prairies Team along with Susan White and myself. Lynn and I were colleagues from 1979 until OXFAM closed the Saskatoon office in 1992. The condolences pages on the Funeral Home website have many tributes from other OXFAM colleagues and of course from the many friends who could not be here today.
Lynn and I worked well together. We never, repeat NEVER, argued, which made our work lives a bit boring but was very good for our productivity. We worked on OXFAM campaigns to oppose apartheid in South Africa, to denounce the military coup in Chile that overthrew and killed Salvador Allende, and to support the struggles of Canada’s indigenous people for justice and self-determination. The staff of OXFAM-Canada unionized as CUPE Local 2722, and the union’s inspiration certainly ran through Lynn’s veins. She was a stalwart union member and an advocate for the rights of working people everywhere.
Lynn was of course also a feminist. The organizations that Lynn worked for and volunteers for were quietly sexist and Lynn worked hard with other women and some men to achieve equality for the women in those organization.*
Some months after OXFAM laid us off, Lynn and I were awarded Global Citizen Awards by the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. Lynn joked that our awards were based more on sympathy than on merit, but we were of course honoured to accept them.
Outside of her work, Lynn was a passionate activist for social justice. She was an active member of the Saskatoon Solidarity Committee and through that committee she helped to build solidarity with popular organizations, unions and other progressive groups in the Global South. Lynn was a real trooper, who could be counted on to organize, to boycott when necessary, to petition, to rally, to support picket lines and to host overseas visitors. Lynn was a founder member of the Saskatoon Peace Coalition and did an amazing job in organizing four well-attended peace conferences in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2015. I’m wearing the beautiful button that Lynn designed for the conferences. One of the people who came from Regina for the 2002 conference wrote in an article afterwards:
I had not finalized my short-list of six workshops, three of which I could actually attend. Lynn Hainsworth, the owner of the warm, welcoming voice at the other end of the line, had patiently listened to me as I sorted out my preferences. She told me I could be in each of my top three choices, which means I'll be able to attend a workshop at each of the three conference theme levels: global, community, and family
But that’s not all she did - when we have an open mike later, I know that some of you will talk about Lynn’s activism in other areas.
Which brings me to Lynn as a friend. Think for a moment of the one word that you would use to describe Lynn………… It was so easy to love Lynn – she was kind, gentle, hospitable and warm. In fact, if she had been a Catholic, she would have been perfect. I will always think of her as upbeat and smiling. When I visited Lynn or talked with her on the phone in the past two years, I was always impressed by how calm she was. When we read the obits we often find the phrase “passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer”. In Lynn’s case I would add “a long, courageous and chipper battle with cancer”. Amazing.
I can’t recall Lynn ever saying hard things about other people, except political badasses and jackasses and their corporate sponsors. Of course, from time to time she would rage against the medical profession, but mildly and not for long.
Friends stand by each other and offer support when times are tough. Lynn did exactly that for her friends, including me. In calmer times, Lynn and I had long, enjoyable conversations. We could talk for an hour and still have things to say. We talked about politics, books, friends, our families and of course our beautiful, talented children.
So: let’s say it loud:
Viva Lynn!
Viva Lynn!
Viva Lynn!

Ken Huish

Written September 23, 2017 from Calgary, AB

Add my name to the long list of people who are sad to hear the news of Lynn’s passing. I also met her through Oxfam-Canada and enjoyed working on activist stuff with her when I lived in Saskatoon. Yes, Lynn was not a diplomat, nor did she embrace compromise, but Lynn was a fearless and tenacious woman whom I was always glad she was on the same side as me. One fond memory I have of Lynn was the night of Bruce Cockburns’s visit to Saskatoon after his return from Nicaragua. We had organized a meeting with the singer after his concert but the show ran late and the Centennial Auditorium kicked us out partway through the event. Lynn invited everybody back to her place so we could continue uninterrupted. My condolences to her family and many friends.

Laurie Thompson

Written September 23, 2017 from Saskatoon / Napatak, SK

Alexa and Cameron, condolences and hugs from Lois and I. We regret we are not with you today. What a wonderful obituary, and the many other comments as well. They all capture so well the Lynn we knew.
My memories of Lynn are of her energy, always ready to take on another battle, project, cause, her beautiful garden, and her wry smile. Rest in peace, Lynn.

Ruth Millar

Written September 23, 2017 from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Lynn was indeed a brave, outspoken and feisty woman, whose accomplishments were legion. In this beautiful obituary I have learned more about them, and am even more impressed. I met her through her Oxfam work. The first time I ever saw her, I believe, was at a fund-raiser for the Chileans. I could see she was a force to be reckoned with. Lynn will not be forgotten by those who knew her or worked with her.

Myra Miller

Written September 23, 2017 from Calgary, AB

Prairie girl...lover of beauty and justice. I cherish my memories of your fierceness, laughter, style, self-awareness and kindness with love and gratitude. Companera Lynn Hainsworth. Presente!

Harvey McKinnon

Written September 22, 2017 from Vancouver, British Columbia

I too am saddened to hear about Lynn's passing. I remember her fondly as a fierce advocate for justice when we worked at Oxfam. And after we both left Oxfam, I saw her a few times and occasionally talked to her on the phone. Most recently about six months ago. And I was happy she continued the work that she was passionate about. She lived a full, but too short, life. My condolences to her family and all those who loved her.

Phillip Penna

Written September 21, 2017 from North Bay, Ontario

It is truly right that Lynn's life be celebrated. She was a good person, and, for me, she was a friend. I met her 30 years ago at One Sky where she worked with Oxfam-Canada and I was involved with the Inter-Church Uranium Committee. I was 22 years old and green. She befriended and supported me. She honoured the work that I was doing. She did not try to mobilize me to her issues or anything like that - she honoured what I was doing and by doing so she gently invited me to see the work that others were doing was as just as interesting and valuable. Later on, she and I got to work together as part of the Canadian Environmental Network. She was the Coordinator of the Saskatchewan Eco-Network and I was her counterpart in Ontario. Again, she brought her calm tenacity to our discussions, helping us all to think clearly in some difficult organizational moments. She had a broad vision with a commitment to the work that small groups did at the local and neighbourhood level. Indeed, this broader vision was not simply informed by the local work but born from it. She knew that what she (and we) did really mattered. I could say many things about what I admired about her personally, but I will simply say one: In my experience she made no apologies for who she was, what she did, what she thought, or what she believed. It is not that she was proud, uncaring, unthinking or unkind. Rather, it was that she simply knew who she was and what she was about and got on with the business of living. In my experience, this is rare. The world is better because of her, as am I. Her passing makes me sad, but my gladness for knowing her is bigger than my sadness.
My condolences to her family and wide circle of friends and colleagues.

Jamie Kneen

Written September 21, 2017 from Ottawa, Ontario

I am so sad to hear this news. Lynn was an inspiration to me as a young activist and organizer when I first came to Saskatchewan. Her clear-eyed view of injustice was matched by her will to fight it. I hadn't seen much of her for years, but I have certainly thought of her, and I will continue to do so. I am grateful to have known her.

Peter Wallace

Written September 21, 2017 from Black River, Nova Scotia

I never knew Lynn but know Oxfam and fighting for justice in all its forms especially here in Eastern Canada. She sounds like a wonderful person and I am sorry to have never met her. I am sure Canada and the world has lost a great person in her passing. I take inspiration from her obit and renewal of my activism.

Kelly Murphy

Written September 21, 2017 from Nanaimo, BC

I'm very sorry to learn of Lynn's passing. I'm reminded how inspired she was with Alexandra Kollantai's memoir of life in the early stages of the Soviet Union. She chose to name Alexa in large part because of that example of a feminist revolutionary. Lynn never backed away from righteous struggles. She's earned her place in the stories of many just struggles in SK and globally. Rest well Lynn.

Lynn Grant

Written September 20, 2017 from Auckland, New Zealand

I first met Lynn in 1981 when I worked as a volunteer with Oxfam in Saskatoon. We became good friends and have remained so since that time. Having the same name, I chose to call myself Lynn 1 and to call her Lynn 2, names that have remained since that time. I have so many good memories of Lynn (as do we all), including her running along the glass wall at the airport in Saskatoon as I was leaving with my husband, calling "Ditch him and come back here" (advice perhaps I should have listened to). Lynn loved Alexa and Cameron, her garden, her cats, her friends her family, and her political beliefs and convictions. I will miss her greatly.

John Foster

Written September 20, 2017 from Ottawa, ON

Fond memories of a courageous and original woman, who contributed greatly to OXFAM, Saskatchewan and her community.

meyer brownstone

Written September 20, 2017 from Toronto, Ontario

I mourn the loss of Lynn and celebrate her life of unremitting struggle for social justice. She played a crucial role in developing the membership and values of Oxfam Canada on the Prairies with emphasis on the importance of empowerment and true participatory democracy. I shared her love of gardening.I send heartfelt condolences to her family, her friends and to her friend and colleague Michael Murphy. I do so personally and as Chair Emeritus of Oxfam Canada. My memory of her will remain undiminished.

Oxfam Canada

Written September 20, 2017 from ,

Please accept deepest condolences from the staff and Board of Oxfam Canada. Lynn is remembered for her incredible contribution to Oxfam's work in Saskatchewan. She was a woman of such deep conviction and commitment to the values of social justice and women's rights that we hold dear. I know she will be very sorely missed by many, especially her family, friends and colleagues.

Jim Harding

Written September 20, 2017 from Fort Qu'Appelle, SK

Lynn was a gem; once when we were overwhelmed by the details of hundreds of people from 20 countries coming to Saskatoon, for the International Uranium Congress, she saved our ass. Steady as she goes Lynn moved into the vacuum of details, working with my father, and everything smoothed out. I came to count on Lynn just being there, with peace conferences, with anti-nuclear work, and with, always meaningful and spirited, conversations when I visited her. She was a true comrade and friend and I will miss that steadfast Lynn is there. Much love to her family and friends as we mourn and celebrate her special life.

Antoinette Martens

Written September 20, 2017 from Harlingen, The Netherlands

Dear Alexa, so sorry you have to miss Lynn, so glad she was with you at your marriage. My condolences to your grandmother, your aunts and uncles. Curious, resilliant, honest, full humour. Her mind like her garden and pond, beautiful.
X Antoinette

Dale Dewar

Written September 20, 2017 from Wynyard, SK

Yesterday as I drove home from Regina, my phone (which I had propped up for GPS use) slipped and "pocket-dialed" Lynn. Little did I realize how long that long-distance call really was. She may have died peacefully - she told me at the end of August that she had accomplished her goal of being around for your, Alexa & Cameron's, wedding - but she lived feistily! I will miss her.

Carmen Milenkovic

Written September 19, 2017 from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I loved Lynn's laugh and her fierceness, the way she wore her hats and her blue eyes challenging me to be brave. She delighted in the beautiful and the treasures of her garden. Alexa and Cameron, she has surrounded you with a community of stalwarts. As you continue on this path remember that we walk with you. At her most recent birthday she called upon us to nurture and care for you. It is a responsibility we all will share.

Walter Davis

Written September 19, 2017 from Seymour, Tennessee

Sad to hear of Lynn's passing but love the obituary. She was part of the Saskatoon we treasure. Bill Fields and I send our love to her family.

Susan White

Written September 19, 2017 from Winnipeg, MB

I am so sad to hear of Lynn's passing. I send the warmest of condolences to her family. I have many fond memories of Lynn. She and I supported each other as newbies at Oxfam in 1979. We worked closely together for some 13 years, including in the Oxfam Women's Caucus, where she was a strong voice for equality.

Ingrid Currie

Written September 19, 2017 from Regina, Saskatchewan

I am sorry to hear of the passing of your mom. Her obituary gave me a glimpse into the life of an incredible woman. Take strength from the good memories you shared with your mother knowing these memories will sustain you into the future.

Larry Haiven

Written September 19, 2017 from Halifax, Nova Scotia

One incident I remember fondly and it shows Lynn as I like to remember her: In the late 90s, Prime Minister Jean Chretien came to Saskatoon. Lynn was in her car when, to her surprise, Chretien's car rolled up beside her. Lynn motioned Chretien to roll down his window, which he did (security wasn't as tight in those days, I guess.) Lynn then gave Chretien an earful about cuts to the CBC. She was fearless.

Judy Haiven

Written September 19, 2017 from Halifax, NS

Lynn was brave, and fearless. She was a wonderful and loyal friend. She gave me a surprise birthday party once. It's devastating to think she's gone.

Tracey Mitchell

Written September 19, 2017 from Saskatoon, SK

Lynn brought her whole self to her work and her friendships and she understood the personal as political. I appreciated her insights very much. She will be missed by many. Condolences to her family and friends.

Pat Atkinson

Written September 19, 2017 from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I was so sorry to hear of Lynn's passing.Lynn was a friend to many who didn't have a voice not only here at home but across the globe. We remember her "fierce and mighty" defence of people she loved and the issues she cared about. Condolences to Alexa and Cameron. Lynn will be missed.

Martin d'Entremont

Written September 19, 2017 from Calgary, Alberta

I remember Lynn well as fierce in her defence of those with no voice and those seeking to express their power. I am very sorry to hear of her passing.