Quebec, Laval, CISSS officials pay homage to Laval’s COVID-19 victims

‘Far too many people left us far too quickly,’ said CAQ Minister Benoit Charette

The lights inside Laval city council’s meeting chamber at city hall were kept on until daybreak, while spotlights outside city hall remained illuminated, as officials from the city gathered with their counterparts from the Quebec government and Laval’s health care agency to observe the first anniversary of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remembering the victims

During a webcast on March 11 from city hall, Mayor Marc Demers, Quebec cabinet minister Benoit Charette (who is Minister Responsible for the Laval Region), Director of Public Health for Laval Dr. Jean-Pierre Trépanier, CISSS de Laval CEO Christian Gagné and CHSLD Sainte Dorothée head nurse Mary-Sylvia Gédéon paid homage to the people from Laval who died of COVID-19 to that date.

“We take the time to gather here to reflect securely on the names of the 876 victims from Laval of the pandemic a well as their families,” said Demers.

Risked their health

“We are pausing to think of the caregivers, as well as the employees, and the volunteers with community groups who did great work on the frontline. We are thinking of you. We take off our hats to you. You did work that was essential, and this for more than a year while endangering and risking your own health.”

Charette noted that “far too many people left us far too quickly because of this virus. There is no way to avoid thinking of the families who in many cases were unable to experience their grief as they normally should. It is normal for people to have grief, but unfortunately many people’s lives were disrupted because of the circumstances.

Strength and endurance

“We never would have expected that a year later our daily lives would still be disrupted,” he added. “But as the Premier said a little earlier, Quebec and its people have shown incredible strength during this ordeal, and it allows us today to see some hope, whether it’s from the experience acquired over the past year, or from the increasing availability of the vaccine. We can, of course, hope that the worst is behind us, but we must still be aware of the lives that were interrupted and the lives that have been lost.”

A year ago, ‘an enemy arrived in our lives unannounced, unidentified, covertly and for the purpose of taking lives,’ said CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée head-nurse Mary-Sylvia Gédéon

Christian Gagné said that over the past year, the pandemic took an enormous toll on work at the CISSS de Laval, as well as on the lives of hundreds of people in Laval who suddenly found themselves in mourning. At the same time, he commended the many hundreds of health-care workers in Laval who put their lives on the line while struggling to deal with the pandemic.

Importance of compassion

“This has been a year when it was necessary to have compassion and, as citizens and colleagues, we must reorient our lives taking into account what we have been through,” said Gagné. “We will no longer be the same at the end of this pandemic.”

Left, Quebec Minister Responsible for Laval Benoit Charette, Mayor Marc Demers and others are seen here at Laval city hall during the recent ceremony to remember victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mary-Sylvia Gédéon said, “I would like to express on behalf of all the staff in the health and social services network, and to all families impacted by this tragedy, all my heartfelt sympathy for the suffering and heartbreak they’ve endured, seeing their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters leave without being able to hold their hand.

Impact on caregivers

“I, too, felt that suffering, that helplessness, when faced with the sudden death of several of your loved ones from this virus,” she continued. “This unscrupulous enemy tore loved ones away from you. For you they may have been parents. For us, they were residents to whom we felt attached profoundly.”

Gédéon said that March 2020, “the year, the month, the hours, the minutes and the seconds, will remain forever engraved in my memory. An enemy arrived in our lives unannounced, unidentified, covertly and for the purpose of taking lives. We knew nothing of him when he arrived, nor how he chose his victims or how he spread.”