It is with great sadness that we announce that Helvi Helene Szkilnyk (nee Laiger, formerly Lõbu) passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on Saturday, March 10, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the age of 91. She was recently resident at Chester Village Care Home where she was cared for lovingly by dedicated and compassionate staff.
Helvi was born on July 19, 1926 to Juhannes Albert and Aline (nee Pinberg), in Harjuma, Estonia, in a fishing village on the northern coast of the Baltic Sea. She was a songstress from her early days.
She lived in Kaberneeme and Tallinn until 1944, when her mother gave up her fishing boat so that Helvi and her younger brother, Valter, could take refuge in Sweden to escape the war.
In Sweden, Helvi met and married Bernald Lõbu and, in 1950, they arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax, settling in Toronto, Canada. In 1970, Helvi married Bohdan Szkilnyk (Johnny), sharing many years together until he passed away in 2013.
She is survived by her two children, Taivi Lõbu (Garth Douglas), and Tarmo Lõbu (Alison McConnell), as well as her twin granddaughters, Chlöe Triin and Paige Helene.
Her spirit shone through not only in song but, in her last few years, artwork. Those who knew her can attest to her love of music, always a part of family gatherings. She shared her warm smile freely and will be sadly missed by all whose lives she touched.
On Monday March 19, there will be a 2 pm service celebrating Helvi's life preceded by visitation, starting at 1 pm at the York Funeral Centre, 160 Beecroft Road, North York.
Helvi loved flowers - but donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Covenant House or Finca Canada.