Joan Doreen TAILLON
Joan Doreen Taillon
October 11, 1946 – September 4, 2023
It is with real sadness and a sense of deepening loss that we share with you the passing of Joan Doreen Taillon into the Great Mystery, in Edmonton on the evening of September 4th, 2023. She was struck down suddenly and unexpectedly by an emergent and incurable organ failure.
At her passing, She was in the loving company of her son Sean P. Tracy and his partner Gabrielle Christopherson as she slipped away peacefully with the caring attention of the Misericordia Hospital I.C.U. staff.
Joan Taillon was a talented, independent and brilliant woman who was a loving and self sacrificing mother, a loyal friend to those she trusted, who along the way in life, showed great bravery and resourcefulness in the face of brutal poverty, rampant sexism, and inequality and exploitation on many fronts. She was, in her work and in her personal life, a dedicated and ardent champion of the rights and stories and cultural survival of Indigenous peoples across Canada.
She was the first-born of Ernest and Marjory Taillon (Gilbert) in East York, Toronto, on October 11th, 1946, elder sister to John and Ruth. They were all together as a young family on a country lot in Agincourt (Scarborough) Ontario.
Joan left home in her late teens and pursued her passion for horses and equine training in the late 1960s, when such a career path was unheard of for women. She is believed by some to be the first woman ever officially licensed as a groom/trainer in the Canadian horse-racing industry. It was while working in the racing game, that she met and married horseman Fred Tracy in 1967, and bore them their only child, Sean, in November of 1968.
Tragically, Fred succumbed to a series of massive heart attacks in Montreal 1969, and left Joan a widow with an infant to raise alone. Fred and Joan had been living very close to the poverty line as itinerant racetrack workers, and there were no resources at hand with Fred’s pay check gone. She returned to the West Hill (Scarborough) home of her parents Ernie and Marj in late 1969, a 23 year old widow and mother having to rebuild her life out of nothing.
Throughout the next two decades, Joan continually strove to upgrade her education, job skills, pay scale and way of life for herself and her son. Based in Scarborough, but commuting hours a day all over Toronto, she obtained certificates and diplomas in medical administrative specialties, medical transcription, copy editing and journalism from Scarborough Centennial
College and Ryerson Polytechnic University. She climbed the career ladder in fields as broad ranging as technical medical reporting at Toronto General Hospital, an executive assistant at the Ontario Metis and Non-Status Indian Association, editing medical research papers at Women’s College Hospital, and editing and curating law books at both the Carswell and Butterworths legal
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Joan transitioned into magazine and newspaper
journalism and editing. After a stint with publishing giant Southam, she set out on an adventure to Northern Manitoba to be the editor-in-chief of the regional newspaper called the Opasquia Times in The Pas, Manitoba. Fed up with low pay and isolation from home and family, she returned to the region of her Father’s birth and kinship to be close to her son Sean as his career had taken him to Kirkland Lake and the Temiskaming region of North-eastern Ontario.
It was there in Kirkland Lake, after taking a position as the Band Administrator for the Beaverhouse First Nation that she met and married her second husband, Noah (Noël) Black, a member of the Wahgoshig Band of the Apitipi Anicinapek Nation. Tragically, Noah died from a freak accident in 1995 and Joan was widowed once again.
From 1995 onwards, Joan criss-crossed Canada several times in search of stability and meaningful work. Sean had settled in Edmonton by 1996, so Joan had stints there and back in Ontario, where she worked and lived at Wahgoshig reserve, and worked in Iroquois Falls at the newspaper there for a while. Upon returning to Edmonton she was offered a position at the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta, and became the senior Editor and Journalist there, leading the writing at Windspeaker, Sweetgrass and Sage newspapers until downsizing and devaluation of experienced staffers in the print journalism sector led to her early retirement from publishing.
After a couple of years of semi-retirement, Joan spent 5 years in Nanaimo B.C. trying to get settled into non-working life. The grey, wet winters there were hard on her soul, so in 2015 she returned to Edmonton to be close to Sean, and where she along with him, was embraced and included into Gabrielle’s extended clan.
In her final years, she struggled mightily with health issues and depression, but always had time for visiting with Marlow the “wee black wonder dog”, and Sean and Gabrielle and a few select friends. She cherished her best buddies from her crochet-gang who met on Fridays for lunch, gossip and all manner of yarns.
Joan was a member of several authors and writers guilds and societies. She was also an avid student and teacher of several divination arts, the history of cartomancy, and was an avid collector of Tarot Card decks. She had written a substantial volume on Tarot Divination, but sadly, she never pursued getting it published.
Joan adored animals, nature, poetry, Leonard Cohen and her son. She loved old books and the proper use of language. She was a fan of old-timey period dramas and murder mysteries. She wasn’t much of a cook, but could whip up a killer grilled cheese sandwich.
Most of all, Joan Taillon was a survivor, until she couldn’t be anymore. She was loved and she damn well mattered.
We will miss her, truly.