May 16, 1971 – March 12, 2019
Surrounded by family and close friends, Sonja passed away on March 12, 2019. Sonja was attending a guided ice climbing camp in Field BC on March 11th when an avalanche descended on her group. Sonja’s families extend their gratitude to those at the camp, Parks Canada staff, STARS and the Foothills Medical Centre teams that did everything they could to save her.
Sonja was born in Red Deer and grew up on her family’s farm. She enjoyed many aspects of farm life, especially living in the same yard as her grandparents and beloved family friend Sylvain Quenneville, playing with cousins, and helping during harvest. She graduated from River Glen School where she made many of her life-long friends. Sonja graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Alberta in 1995. After graduation and before moving to New Zealand to work, Sonja met the love of her life, Ian Findlater. They continued to communicate while she was away, and their relationship blossomed upon her return and they were married in 2002. Sonja loved the mountains, which were her passion, and it was there that she found adventure and rejuvenation.
Sonja and Ian lived and worked in Red Deer and pursued adventure every chance they had. They enjoyed mountain climbing, mountain biking, adventure racing, skiing, and ice climbing together. She worked in the Red Deer area for 16 years as an OT where she met more treasured friends, colleagues and patients. Inspired by the work she did with stroke rehabilitation, Sonja returned to school and graduated from the University of Calgary with a Masters in Science in Kinesiology. With a passion to continue her stroke research, she began her PhD in Neuroscience in 2015 and on February 14th, 2019, Sonja successfully defended her PhD thesis.
Sonja is survived by her husband Ian, paternal grandmother Doris Johnson, parents Jack (Deborah) Johnson and Elaine Johnson, parents-in law, Jim and Peggy Findlater, sisters, Sandra Johnson and Sara Johnson, brother-in-law Pat (Patty) Findlater, sister-in-law Leah (John) Bracken, nieces and nephews Parker and Max DeGraff, Megan, Lindsay and Owen Findlater, and Ian and Paige Bracken, along with the many aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Donations in Sonja’s memory can be made to STARS Air Ambulance and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Funeral services will be held at 1:30 pm on March 30th, 2019 at the Crossroads Church in Red Deer, AB. Email condolences can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org