It is with profound sadness that we mourn the death of Dr. Wendy Beauchemin Peterson, who passed away on Friday, September 29, after a sudden illness. A Providence alumna and long-time faculty member, Wendy is being remembered by her former friends and colleagues as a mentor, leader and energetic influencer who made the world around her better.
“I can quite genuinely say that I am a better person because of time spent in Wendy’s presence,” says Dr. David Johnson, Providence President. “She had a way of making me view history, people and cultures in new ways. Her impact was widespread and positive on people’s lives.”
Wendy was enjoying a trip to Paris when she suddenly took ill. Less than two weeks prior she had been at the Otterburne campus where she was helping facilitate the Introduction to Indigenous Studies course offered in conjunction with NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community. She had served NAIITS as a founding board member and journal editor, and through her connections with Providence she helped develop a joint degree in asset-based community development.
Val Hiebert, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Providence, remembers Wendy as a wise, lively colleague who, as a Red River Metis woman, was a “formidable force” for justice and social change.
“Wendy had a lot of delightful layers in all the contexts in which I experienced her,” says Hiebert. “She was ageless—ranging from the wise seer in one context to childish delight in the next. As a young professor at the time, my experiences of Wendy were formative and I’m grateful for the ways in which her voice has informed the better parts of my own.”
Wendy graduated with a B.A. in Biblical Studies (Highest Honours) from Providence (Winnipeg Bible College) in 1989 and completed her M.A. in Theology (Honours) at Providence Theological Seminary in 1994. She had recently defended her Ph.D. dissertation through Asbury Theological Seminary and had been hooded as “Dr. Wendy Lynn Beauchemin Peterson” this past June.
“Her death, while sudden to all of us, will have come as no surprise to the one who formed her at the beginning of the world,” reflected Dr. Terry LeBlanc, Director of NAIITS, in a Facebook post. “She has now been welcomed by her creator into the next steps of life’s journey beyond this world.”
Wendy was a member of the Providence faculty for 19 years, and she and her husband Ed also served on the institution’s corporation.
“She exemplified the kind of covenant friendship that allowed a person to be fully themselves when they were with her,” says Cameron McKenzie, Vice President for Providence University College. “It was always a pleasure to be with her, to share teaching together and to be able to catch a small glimpse of her vision for the flourishing of Indigenous peoples in the Church and around the world.”
Wendy was most loved and will be most fondly remembered by Ed, their children Melanie, Chad and Cory, and her many grandchildren.