Helen Janzen

Helen Janzen

1931 - 2024

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Obituary of Helen Janzen

Helen Janzen (nee Nickel) passed away on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at Maplewood Manor in Steinbach, MB.

She is survived by her four children – Bernie (Elaine), John (Linda), Walter (Michelle), and Lilli (Stuart), eight grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and three step-great-grandchildren. 

She was predeceased by her husband Victor on October 24, 2022 as well as her brother John Nickel (2023), and sister Tina Kehler (2024).

Helen Nickel was born on August 18, 1931, in Gruenfeld, Ukraine, in the Soviet Union. She was the second child born to Jakob and Elizabeth Nickel. She had one older sister Tina and a younger brother John. Her early years were difficult with her family moving numerous times as her father tried to find work and a home for his family. In 1937, Jakob was taken away and despite many efforts by his wife Elizabeth to find him, he was never seen again. It was only after Elizabeth’s death that information from Ukraine arrived which stated that he had been executed. Life was very hard for the Nickel family especially since they were without a father which was unfortunately quite common during this time. During WWII Elizabeth Nickel took her children with her westward as they fled the advancing Red Army. Eventually they arrived in Germany, and after a number of years, they were able to emigrate to Canada and settle in southern Manitoba thanks to the sponsorship of the Dietrich Peters family of Gnadenthal.

Life in Canada was a blessing. The Nickel family moved from Altona to Steinbach and then to Winnipeg over the next few years. While attending Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church, Helen met Victor Janzen and they were married on August 5, 1961. While Victor finished his schooling and embarked on his teaching career, they began to raise a family. Bernie was born in 1962, John in 1964, Walter in 1966, and Lilli in 1969. Dad’s career took them from Winnipeg to Killarney in 1966 and then to Steinbach in 1970 where they lived the rest of their lives. They celebrated 61 years of marriage in 2022.

Helen’s traumatic early years shaped her worldview. She credited her faith for helping her survive the horrors of Russia and World War II. She always felt it was of utmost importance that her children understand the role that God had played in getting her family to Canada where they could worship freely and feel safe. Church involvement was very important to her and in her many years at Steinbach Mennonite Church she was very active in the Ladies groups, especially committed to quilting many blankets for MCC.

Helen cared deeply for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She wanted to stay in touch with them even across vast distances and was very proud of their accomplishments. She showed her love in many ways especially through hosting and preparing traditional Mennonite meals. She took great pride in her garden which meant the family enjoyed many tasty homemade soups and preserves as well as other dishes. She was also an accomplished seamstress and was able to repair almost any piece of clothing.

More than anything Helen wanted to spend time with her family. Even though life was often very busy, she took time to read with her children and play games. Many tasks done together like washing dishes were more about connecting and discussing the day than completing the job.

Victor and Helen moved into an apartment in Bridgepark Village in Steinbach in 2003 which became their community. The warmth and support of the people in this ‘family’ has been a blessing for them as well as for the children. Lifelong friendships were the cornerstone of their wonderful golden years and they never tired of hosting their friends.

A heartfelt thank you to the compassionate staff at Maplewood Manor for their exceptional care for Mom in her difficult last days with us. Also deep gratitude to Steinbach’s Palliative Care and Homecare staff for their expertise and guidance during Mom’s cancer journey.

Helen, Mom, Oma, you will be so missed! We love you!

The celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at 2:00 p.m., at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach, MB. To join the family via livestream, please click HERE shortly before the time of the service. 

The interment will take place at Heritage Cemetery, Steinbach, MB.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Mennonite Central Committee - Ukraine emergency response unit, 134 Plaza Drive; Winnipeg, MB R3T 5K9.


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Celebration of Life

2:00 pm
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
Birchwood Funeral Chapel
162 PTH 52 W
Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada
(204) 346-1030