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Team Shan
18 Beechwood Path
Huntsville, ON
P1H 1S8

lives lived article

Globe and Mail (October 2005)
LIVES LIVED Submission

Shanna Louise Elizabeth Larsen

Daughter, sister, friend, artist, athlete, swimming instructor, professional figure skating coach.  Born on March 13, 1981 in North Bay, Ontario.  Died at home on May 14, 2005 in Woodstock, Ontario, of breast cancer, aged 24. 


Shanna (Shan) was born on Friday the 13th and people predicted that she would have good luck for the rest of her life. She was the oldest of our three children and big sister to her brothers, Kris and Andrew.  Shanna, Hebrew for beautiful, had a happy, healthy childhood growing up in the northeastern Ontario town of Haileybury.  The north always remained special to her. 

From her earliest years, Shanna had a knack for hairstyling, often doing her own and friends’ hair for skating competitions, parties and special events.  She had an innate sense of fashion and style and often set the trend. 

Shan made a mean lasagna and melt in your mouth pastry. She enjoyed a glass of wine with family and friends.  It always went well with one of her favourite cheeses.

Shan valued physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.  She was involved with sports throughout school-swimming, cross country running, skiing, track and field, soccer, roller-blading and figure skating.  Shanna started skating at the age of three years.  She enjoyed it for the recreation, camaraderie, competition and the love of the sport. Shan achieved her Skate Canada Gold Medal in Dance at 16 and became a professional figure skating coach in 2002.

Modest about her art, Shanna excelled in high school and achieved the OAC Art Award.  She then pursued an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Arts, through theUniversity of Western Ontario, graduating in 2004. Her plan was to attend teacher’s college in the fall of 2005.

Shanna had a kind and gentle spirit, always caring and willing to help.  She had a passion for life, recognized by all who knew her.  Shan was an inspiration for her co-workers and respected by all. Shanna had her dad’s sense of humour and her mother’s laugh.  She had a serious respect for life, but could laugh at everything, including herself.

A skilled swimming instructor and talented figure skating coach, Shanna loved working with young children and was always willing to take on a challenge.  She was an instructor who enjoyed working with the hard to reach, the difficult, or the disadvantaged child.

Most of all, Shanna loved life. She lived each day to the fullest, working hard and playing hard.  The sunflower was her favourite flower and like it she loved summer and sunshine.  She had a permanent tan that earned her the nickname “Shan the Tan”.

Friends were very special to Shanna.  Never wanting to be the centre of attention, she frequently was the centre of their activities.   They loved her huge smile, her bright eyes and her warm personality.  A friend commented that she drew people together with her personality and presence.  During her two month stay at the cancer treatment centre, nurses were astounded at the immense support she received from friends, more than they had seen in their practice.

A lifelong friend said “Shan spread her love over all of us.  She touched many lives, our lives, everyone in a way we will never forget”.  Friends were the sunshine of her life and she was the sunshine of theirs.

Remembering Shan, a close friend shared the following for her Celebration of Life:

“A friend is someone you choose wisely,
For a friend is your own mirrored image,
Someone to compliment your own self,
Someone who indicates who you are as a person”.

 Shanna was chosen by many.

Lorna Larsen is Shanna’s mother.  She lives with her husband, Rob and two sons in Woodstock, ON.