BLANCHETTE, Sandra Melanie (nee Todd)

November 22, 1968 – March 27, 2022

It is with great sadness that Sandra left us to go onto the next step of her journey in the early morning hours on March 27. Sandra had a big heart that was always full of love, compassion, welcome and joy, and she lit up every room that she entered. She loved with her whole heart and never held anything back. Family was everything to Sandra (of blood or heart), especially her nieces and nephews who meant the world to her. 

Sandra will be lovingly remembered by her husband and soulmate of over 30 years, Jason, as well as her mother Joan (Schneider), and her two dogs, Autumn and Whiskey. She leaves behind many who will miss her dearly, including nieces and nephews Sarah (Spencer) Tomlin, Curtis (Kelly) Todd, Travis (Meg) Todd, Kevin (Melissa) Todd and Nicole Todd; six great nieces and nephews; as well as extended family and close friends. Her light and legacy will shine on forever through them. She is also survived by her sister Karen and her brother Gordon (Cathy). Sandra is predeceased by her father, Raymond.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Joan and Ray Todd, Sandra shared a special bond with her parents that lasted her entire life. Much like her father, she was always clear on her opinions. Her fiery feistiness made its presence known when needed, but it was always grounded from a place of love.

Sandra’s passion for the outdoors came early as the family moved to an acreage just outside Winnipeg when she was four and later spent as much time as possible at the family’s cabin at West Hawk Lake. Sandra was happiest when she was out in nature, whether it be waterskiing, driving the boat, swimming, walking, skiing, hiking, camping, or snowmobiling. She loved sharing good food and wine with friends and family, whether at West Hawk, the seasonal site at St. Malo or most recently, the seasonal site at Gleniffer Lake. 

As a child, Sandra spent her time helping at the acreage, attending 4H club, and playing with her first fur baby, her dog ‘Licorice’. Her compassionate and caring nature was shown at an young age:  Joan remembers a time when she was ill after getting home from shopping, and little Sandra – only seven – made numerous trips to the car to empty it of groceries and put the ice cream away for her mom. Her love of country music came early when she attended her first concerts of Hank Snow and Johnny Cash with her mom and dad – but make no mistake, she has no love for Slim Whitman (“can we PLEASE go home now”). Sandra was tenacious when it came to achieving a goal and it wasn’t long until she made Jason a convert!

The family moved back to Winnipeg in 1983, where she finished high school. As friends moved away or became busy, Sandra appreciated every time they got together, and everything they ever did. She was always supportive and there for anyone who needed her.

Professionally, Sandra was passionate about being an optician. She worked across Canada throughout her career, teaching, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of contact lens fitters. She was a leader in her profession and generous with her time, often going above and beyond for her students and clients; many of Sandra’s former students give her credit for the opticians they are today. Her contributions to the field will be remembered by many.

Sandra met the love of her life, Jason Blanchette, in 1991 while working in her optical career in Winnipeg. Not immediately taken with Jason (commenting to Joan about the guy who kept bugging her), it took Jason some time to wear her down. On Sandra’s last day at the job, Jason asked her out. She agreed but on conditions: ”my mom’s making meatloaf so you’re not taking me to dinner but we can go to a movie.” This began a 30-year “duck and weave” dance for Jason with this spitfire of a country girl, but they shared every milestone, challenge, and joy together hand in hand.

In 2014, Sandra and Jason moved to Niverville where they built a very strong, close community with their church and neighbours. In 2018, they moved to Cochrane for job opportunities and to be near old friends, where they could look out at the mountains from their backyard. 

Sandra brought many lovely qualities and talents to life. She was kind, respectful, loving, and a friend to just about everyone she met. First and foremost, Sandra had a great sense of humour and her loud, verbose and contagious laugh would draw attention. Often, patrons at other tables in restaurants couldn’t help but join in even though they had no idea what they were laughing about.

Her creativity took many forms: crocheting, knitting, photography, scrapbooking, painting and most recently, colouring and lego creations. Most of all, Sandra loved animals, but especially her dogs – they were her heart and soul. Not only their two current fur babies but also the three previous rescues (Indy, Delta, Blaze) that were given the best lives possible by her and Jason. While stunning when dressed up, Sandra was happiest in her tights and flannel shirts, curled up with her dogs. Sandra became a voracious reader as an adult, devouring books and joining book clubs. She also loved new experiences and to travel with Jason and friends; they traveled to New York, Vegas, and multiple cruises around the Caribbean – to name a few.

Quietly spiritual, Sandra had a very close relationship with God. She showed her love in many ways, being intimately involved with her religious community, giving her time and talent to share her faith. She knew where she was going, and “although sad to leave this life, I will be very happy to meet my Saviour.”

Sandra bore the challenge of a chronic health issue most of her adult life with positivity, patience and inner strength. She was a fighter, and rarely showed how her illness impacted her day-to-day life. This spirit continued through her recent cancer diagnosis, doing everything she could to try to stay with us as long as possible. Alas, it was not to be and we are devastated to lose her so soon. While happy she is out of pain, Sandra has left a hole that is impossible to fill.

Jason and the family thank the many individuals who helped ease Sandra’s journey through life. Special thanks to those who gave care with her recent illness at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre:  Unit 2 (radiation), Unit 46 nursing staff, doctors of the oncology department and the pain clinic team.

There are few words to express the deep pain and sorrow of losing such a beautiful person, inside and out, and one who made such an impact on those around her. God needed our sweet Sandra for something and couldn’t wait. We know she is above us and was greeted by her father and many happy barks and wagging tails. Sandra, you are so loved but never forgotten; you will remain always in our hearts.

A Celebration of Sandra’s Life will be held on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at 2:00 pm at the Fourth Avenue Bible Church, 62 Fourth Avenue S, Niverville, Manitoba.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Sandra’s memory to one of the following charities or one of your choice:

Arrangements entrusted to Florence (Flo) Simpson, Funeral Director

Cochrane Country Funeral Home – cochrane@piersons.ca – 403-932-1039

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  1. On 31/03/2022 at 7:40 pm ted and judy drabik Said:

    Jason and Sandras family- we are very sorry to hear of your loss- praying for you today and in the upcoming months-

  2. On 31/03/2022 at 8:50 pm Peter & Liesa Said:

    Sending our condolences for all of Sandras family. Praying Holy Spirit will envelope you all in His embrace and care, bring peace and rest .

  3. On 31/03/2022 at 10:32 pm Heather and Ron Penner Said:

    Jason, Ron and I are profoundly sorry to hear about Sandra. She certainly was full of love and laughter and a fierce spirit. She was kind and thoughtful and this world was better because she was in it. Our hearts are heavy for you but know your memories of Sandra and the knowledge that you’ll see each other again will give you some comfort. May God wrap His arms around you and give you peace. Heather and Ron

  4. On 01/04/2022 at 3:05 am James Siemens Said:

    Although she was my cousin, Sandra was the sister I never had. The obituary describes her well, and I have made sure that my own family – as far away as we are – have got to know her through stories. She was generous and loving, with a huge laugh that could surprise people in her vicinity. I am, frankly, at a loss for words as to how to express my feelings in the face of her death, but I am glad she had the friends she did, and especially glad that she found love and true partnership in Jason. She deserved to be loved. May her memory be eternal.

  5. On 01/04/2022 at 10:03 am Janis Morrison Said:

    Sandra is leaving a huge hole in many of our hearts and lives. My deepest condolences to Jason and all of their family and all touched by this amazing woman.

  6. On 01/04/2022 at 11:49 am Jennifer Bertrand Said:

    On behalf of the College of Opticians of Alberta, we are so sorry to hear about Sandra. She was a wonderful, dedicated colleague who gave tirelessly to our organization. On a personal note, I will miss Sandra’s beautiful spirit, kindness, and passion. Our thoughts are with the family.

  7. On 04/04/2022 at 6:12 pm Ashley Muller Said:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Sandra when I came to Winnipeg in 2016 for a contact lens workshop. She graciously offered to host me while I was there for the weekend. I learned so much from her in such a short amount of time and will forever be grateful to have met her and to have gained the knowledge I did. Thank you for your kindness Sandra, you will be missed. My condolences to the family and friends of this wonderful human.

  8. On 07/04/2022 at 10:30 am Margaret Cayenne Said:

    My condolences to the family here in Alberta and Manitoba. Sandra was an involved and valued member of our College of Opticians of Alberta. She will be sadly missed.

  9. On 08/04/2022 at 3:18 pm Diana Said:

    I am grateful to have met Sandra at our book club. She was an amazing, kind bright light that will be missed. I still can’t believe she has passed…my condolences to her family. My thoughts are with you.

  10. On 12/04/2022 at 8:43 am Ethel & Marv Fryklund Said:

    I met Sandra when she first started working in Optical, she was a dedicated Optician & loved her profession& gave freely of her time to help everyone. Our deep condolences to Jason & family, she will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her. Remember all the happy memories with Sandra it will help heal your broken hearts. RIP Sandra

  11. On 24/04/2022 at 5:45 pm Lolita Loewen Said:

    I just heard of Sandra’s passing and was devastated. Sandra was one of my Contact Lens mentors/teacher. You didn’t have to know her very long to know that she was passionate about being a Contact Lens Optician. So thankful for having been under her wing in 2017-2018. Even when she moved to Edmonton before our graduation she kept in touch to make sure we had what we needed to finish the course. She went above and beyond to ensure we as students would succeed. Heartfelt sympathies to her family and friends.