In Memory of




Obituary for Athena Ashley Hryhoriw

Athena Ashley Hryhoriw

1989 - 2024

Athena Hryhoriw, born on August 21, 1989, in Calgary, Alberta, left this world to explore the next on January 11, 2024 at the age of 34, leaving a void in the hearts of all who knew her. She was a celestial spirit, captivated by the stars, and her journey through life was as vibrant as the galaxies she gazed upon.

Athena's early years were spent in the beautiful landscapes of Calgary Alberta, where her love for the cosmos began to bloom. She spent countless nights under the open sky with her telescope, exploring the mysteries of the universe. This passion propelled her to pursue higher education in the realms of physics and astrophysics at the University of Calgary, where she graduated with her degree alongside her sister in 2013.

In 2015, Athena embarked on a new chapter, relocating to Canora, Saskatchewan, to be with her loving parents, Bryan and Leslie Hryhoriw. Later, she found companionship in Estevan with her loving partner, Joshua Michel, creating a life filled with shared dreams and shared love.

Athena's thirst for adventure and her fascination with distant lands combined with her unparalleled conviction to not take no for an answer led her to explore over 45 countries, ticking off 6 out of 7 World Wonders along the way. Her passport, a testament to her wanderlust, was filled to the brim with the stories of cultures encountered and the beauty witnessed in every corner of the globe.

Some of the most cherished moments of her simpler life in Saskatchewan were spent on the lake fishing with Josh, where her fierce competitive nature shone through. She took great pride in being the one to reel in the biggest fish, constantly placing bets with those around her on who could get the biggest catch. This pride led to many bruised egos of those would bet against her tenancy to win and garnered three first place trophies. 

She is survived by a host of loving people who will forever cherish her memory including; her parents, Bryan and Leslie Hryhoriw, sister Venessa Hryhoriw (Andrew), two brothers, Christopher (Megan) and Richard Watts, her loving partner Joshua Michel, his mother Wanda and his sister Jenna (Travis) Michel (daughter Jordynn) as well as her uncles, Real (Loretta) Leveque, Roland (Cheryl) Holinaty and Albert (Cathy) Hryhoriw; aunties, Roberta Lambert and Jessmi Holinaty, Sherry (Todd) Massey and Peggy Strong; Joshua’s aunts and uncles; Patricia (Bryan) Kolke, Murray Mosley, Danny (Linda) Mosley, Paula (Stan) Lainton, Don Van De Woestyne, Andrea  (John) Corrigan, Carla (James) Ferguson, Jeff (Brenda) Mosley;  as well as numerous great uncles and great aunties and many cousins. Athena's spirit will live on in the memories of those she touched with her warmth, tenacity, and insatiable curiosity.  

She is predeceased by her grandparents, Wasyl Hryhoriw and Joan Hryhoriw, uncle Murray Holinaty; father in-law Mark Michel; Joshua's aunt Marina Van De Woestyne and her two cherished feline companions, Toulouse and Gideon.

Athena, a cosmic explorer, has embarked on her final journey among the stars, leaving behind a legacy of curiosity, courage, and a deep love for the wonders of the universe. May she find eternal peace in the cosmic tapestry she so dearly admired. And every time you see an orchid or look up at the night sky and see a twinkling star, think of her. Through those who loved her, her memory will transcend time and space.

We want to thank everyone for their continual well wishes, condolences, thoughts, prayers, and love as we try to navigate this very difficult time as a family. 

The Public Visitation took place on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. and the Prayers were held at 7:00 p.m. with Connie Wheeler officiating. Both Services were held at Hall Funeral Services, Estevan, SK.

The Funeral Mass was held on Wednesday, January 17, 2024 at 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Baptist R.C. Church, Estevan, SK with Rev. Leonardo Tamayo Jr. presiding. The family invited everyone to join them for lunch in the parish hall immediately following the service. 

A video recording of the Funeral Mass will be available for 90 days: click here

In memory of Athena, memorial donations may be made to the Estevan Humane Society, Box 1095 Estevan, SK S4A 2H7 or to the Estevan Wildlife Federation, Box 105, Estevan, SK S4A 2A2. 

Hall Funeral Services in Estevan provided care to Athena’s family – Yvonne Clark, Funeral Director.

Eulogy by Vanessa (Athena's sister)

I just wanna say im sorry there are no subtitles for you and I’ll try my best to keep it together enough for you to understand me. For those that don’t know me, my name is Venessa Hryhoriw and Athena is my Big Sister, just in case that wasn’t obvious by my incredible resemblance to her. I just want to start off by saying thank you to everyone here who came today, who travelled here from their homes, who is watching on the live streams, who sent condolences, food, flowers, donations, anything – thank you. I know she would be shocked by the amount of people who have showed up to show her how loved she was, because she was so loved. I also want to say the biggest thank you I can muster up to Josh and his family, the happiness you brought her, the family you gave her, the home you built for and with her, and everything you did for her. I am eternally grateful for all of you and what you’ve done for me, my family, and most importantly her. 

Athena and I were born 13 months apart, she is more than just my Big Sister, we are like twins. Growing up I was her shadow, where she went, I went, what she did, I did, what she liked, I liked, and I am sure at times that annoyed her more than anything else. I admired her, envied her intelligence and perseverance and wanted to be just like her. My childhood was what it is because I was her sidekick and I am who I am today because of everything she is.

We spent our summers at the farm where my parents live now, and our summers at Madge Lake. Biking through the forest trails at our cabin and swimming in the lake. We would spend hours building the most epic sand castles and seeing how high we could double kicks in the water before falling below the surface while singing ‘everybody was kung foo fighting.’ For a few weeks during those summer months we would spend time at St.Michael’s Camp where we share endless memories, funny stories, and probably a little bit of trauma. St.Michael’s is also where she bestowed the nickname ‘Leech Girl’ on me after I got a leech on my foot from a canoeing trip. But she was the only one allowed to call me Leech Girl, if anyone else would have I am certain they would have felt the wrath of Athena (which let’s be honest was terrifying). Because she was constantly protecting me, no one could hurt or pick on her little sister unless it was her. She had my back always and I had hers. When my parents and I would leave for weekends on basketball tournaments sometimes I would get home and find beer bottles tucked away in my room because she had had a party, but she always made my bed. And I kept her secret because that’s what sisters do. Sorry Mom and Dad.

She is tough and stubborn, she pushed through every single barrier that was put in front of her without hesitation and every single person in this room I am sure can agree to that. Nothing would ever stop her. If she wanted something she went for it, or as a child got me to do her bidding. Like the time we were out for dinner, we were probably only about 6 and 7, the restaurant had a little bridge that went over a pond that had turtles. We were looking at the turtles and they weren’t moving, so she convinced me to spit on the turtles to get them to move. We did get caught, and the restaurant staff wasn’t too happy, but they weren’t moving so we had to try something.

She took that stubborn, don’t take no for an answer into her adult life too, traveling to some of the craziest places on the globe no one else dared to go to and hiding her beloved cat Toulouse in her dorm room at University when no pets were allowed. And when Toulouse was eventually discovered they said it was either the cat or the dorm, she picked the cat. No was not an acceptable answer. 

And that was Athena, her loved ones came first and she channeled her tough stubbornness into every ounce of love she had, if you were lucky enough for her to love you she would do anything for you. She would move the sun and stars if she had to just to make sure you were comfortable, cared for and had everything you needed. When I was going through some of the hardest times in my life she would let me sleep in her bed so we could watch movies together and just laugh. And some of the best gifts I’ve ever received were from her because she took the time to think it through, to make it perfect. If you at any point have wondered why I am wearing the most 2000’s It girl sweater of all time, it’s because of her. I wanted this sweater so badly but I couldn’t afford it, it’s all I wanted that year. So for Christmas she surprised me with it, she had saved enough money from her job to make sure she could get me one and ive never let it go because it’s a testament to her love and compassion. She was thoughtful and put so much effort into every single thing she did for others. 

My memories of her are countless, my experiences with her are unmatched and I am who I am because I had a big sister like her. The best big sister I could have asked for.

Athena I promise you that I will never stop laughing at our shared memories, I promise to always sing every single word of Misery Business by Paramore when it comes on in the car just like we used to, I promise to always own a cat and to continue gazing at the stars wondering what mysteries they hold. I know you are always with me and I’ll never quite know how I got so lucky as to have a Big Sister I admired so much.

There are three things I would ask all of you to promise her today, that you will tell the people you love how much they mean to you and tell them all the wonderful things you love about them because we don’t say it enough, to love as fiercely as she did without conditions, and lastly every time you see an orchid or look up at the night sky and see a twinkling star, think of her, remember her, tell her story.

I want to leave you all with a quote from Walt Disney, a quote I believe encapsulated how she lived her life, “First, think. Second, believe. Third, dream. And finally, dare”

Eulogy by Joshua Michel (Athena's Partner)

In times like these, it forces one to try to and find words to sum up a life of such a wonderful person.  To try and say something, anything, to make sense of this loss and provide some solace and peace of mind as we navigate through these uncharted waters – it proves to be no easy task. 

 Perhaps Athena's death, though, incredibly tragic, can be the inspiration for all of us to live. 

 Athena led by example on how to live life to the fullest, how to love and be loved, how to cherish, how to appreciate, how to understand, how to be humble, how to be selfless and put the needs of others ahead of her own.  She did all of that and so much more. 

 If we can depart from this earth and leave something good behind, we have succeeded.  Athena did exactly that.  Athena succeeded. 

 Among many things that Athena was passionate about, she loved to read.  In our collection of books resides the novel "The Call of the Wild" by Jack London.  I felt the following passage from his book would both reflect Athena's wonderful life and provide the guidance for us who mourn her loss: 

 “I would rather be ashes than dust!

I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.

I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.

The function of man is to live, not to exist.

I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.

I shall use my time.” 

 Goodbye Athena.  I love you.  I miss you.  I will see you again.