Jana MacDonald
Jana MacDonald
Jana MacDonald
Jana MacDonald
Jana MacDonald
Jana MacDonald

Obituary of Jana Rayne MacDonald


In Loving Memory


Jana Rayne MacDonald

(August 28, 1956 - May 19, 2023)


Jana Rayne MacDonald, a vibrant and passionate soul, left this world suddenly on May 19, 2023, at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto after a brief and intense illness. Born Joan Elizabeth on August 28, 1956, to J.J. and Mary Lou MacDonald in Antigonish, NS, Jana's departure has left a profound void in the lives of the many who loved her dearly.


Jana is survived by her loving husband, Robert (Bob) Springer, and her cherished daughters, Michaela Burns (Mike) and Glynnis Hawe (Alan). She will forever be remembered by her siblings Jay MacDonald (Jeanne), Nancy Rose (Wayne), Anne Louise MacDonald (Frank), Ronald MacDonald (Jennifer), Meg MacDonald (Paul), and Alan MacDonald, as well as her stepchildren Katherine and Thomas. Jana's legacy lives on through her adored grandchildren, Jack, Oliver, Sloane, and Reese. She leaves behind her nieces and nephews, Lindsay, Graham, Erin, Laura, Adam, and John, as well as previous long term partner Daniel Hawe. She is predeceased by her parents, sister-in-law Margie, brother-in-law Frank and first husband Michael O’Connor. Jana was beloved by her many friends, some of whom she knew and loved since their time together in the hospital nursery.


Jana had many seasons in her life. Starting in the Maritimes, she was born and raised in Nova Scotia, where she discovered her love of nature and painting from the warm embrace of her family’s home on Hawthorne Street. From the age of twelve, she designed and made her own clothes, nurturing a talent that would carry on throughout her life. It wasn’t long before she sought expanded horizons, travelling at 16 to hitchhike in the UK with her sister Nancy, at 17/18 to what was then Yugoslavia with Canada World Youth, and at 20 to Nepal, where her curiosity for life and learning really took flight. It was there that she pierced her nose on a whim, baffling the establishment back home, to her great delight. Her nose ring became one of her many hallmarks, both quirky and beautiful.


In 1978, Jana graduated from St. Francis Xavier University, where she obtained a Bachelor’s in Sociology. In 1979, Jana moved to PEI with Michael O’Connor, where she made a community of friends that lasted for decades and inaugurated (or at least she claimed to) the still-running annual Blueberry Festival. In 1980, Jana began a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. In 1981, Jana gave birth to her eldest daughter Michaela, who would go on to embody Jana’s grace, creativity, and style—and in whom Jana took great pride.


The next season of Jana’s life took her to Alberta and then Ontario, with her then-partner Daniel, who together shared 19 years of partnership. In 1985, Jana gave birth to her second daughter Glynnis, to whom Jana gave her passion, boundless energy, and optimism. Jana delighted once again in thumbing her nose at the establishment (quite literally) when Glynnis pierced her own nose at the age of 10, in homage to her mother’s feisty spirit.


In 1989, Jana moved to BC, where her spirit found a home. She embarked on parallel careers in the film industry as a highly respected Costume Department Supervisor and as an accomplished artist, contributing to 35 years and 37 movies in the film industry. Her artistic output was impressive; her preferred medium was acrylic paints on canvas, which she turned into realist paintings that depicted environmental and social change, capturing the essence of her strong social ethic. She also freely sketched and photographed, and contributed to a number of public murals that can still be seen. She was a relentless supporter of other artists, touring galleries, joining art collectives, and purchasing many pieces small and large to decorate her colourful home.


In 2006, Jana met her life partner Robert, a small-town fellow from Swift Current, Saskatchewan. They complemented each other, with Robert’s laid-back calmness tempering Jana’s high energy and driven personality. Together they built a great love, stitched together by their shared kindness, devotion to family, open hearts, love for life, and desire to get out and see the world. “Roberto” (as she loved to call him) smoothed out Jana’s rough edges, giving her peace and calm. Jana invigorated Robert’s life, and together they travelled, ate, created, planned, and loved their extended families from coast to coast.


Jana had an indomitable spirit. She was kind, spiritual in her own way—she saw the connection between humans and nature as holy, and she created her own ministry out of the love, affection, and attention she paid to her community, friends and family. She nurtured her relationships with her three sisters with daily phone calls and extended visits; they were her best friends. She loved her daughters—"her girls”—with everything she had, boasting about their many accomplishments. She breathed easy when her daughters both found the love and support of their partners, her fabulous sons-in-law, with whom she forged her own relationships. She exclaimed with joy when she became a grandmother.


In this last season of her life, Jana discovered her latest passion: educating children about climate change and inspiring them to take action in saving the world. She was driven to make our world a better place, and had a voracious appetite to learn and teach. She became an activist, spurred by the desire to preserve the earth for her grandchildren. She brought her own unique talents to bear as well, and she was developing a children’s colouring book about the environment to be self-published later this year.


Jana was one of a kind. She became surrogate mother to the children of both friends and family who passed too soon, stepping in to help at their weddings, to take them out to dinner, and to drive them to their language lessons and school plays. Rather than sell her apartment in Vancouver while planning a recent move, she made the decision instead to rent it to a family recently emigrated from Iran to help them get on their feet in a new country.


Affectionately known as "Jumping Joan" in her childhood, “Jana Banana” to family, and lovingly referred to as "Jama" by her grandchildren, Jana possessed a unique blend of creativity, energy, passion, love, strength of will, and independence. It is difficult to imagine the world without her in it. Her energy was infectious. She will forever be cherished and remembered by her family, friends, and all who were fortunate enough to know her.


May her soul rest in eternal peace.


A visitation will be held on Thursday, May 25, 2023 from 5-7pm at Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel at 1403 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario. A celebration of life for Jana will be held in Vancouver in June, on a date to be announced.


In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to one of the many causes Jana was passionate about:

  • ArtStarts in Schools, which provides innovative arts programs for young people, practical resources for teachers and artists, and leadership in advocacy for arts in education: https://artstarts.com/donate
  • Be the Change Earth Alliance delivers ecosocial education initiatives that engage youth and educators in meaningful learning and action on environmental, social and climate justice: https://www.bethechangeearthalliance.org/donate

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