Dec 02, 2011 - PUTTING TOGETHER ALL THE MISSING PIECES

When tragedy strikes a small town the entire community feels it. When tragedy strikes a small town four times in one weekend, the entire community is left feeling shell-shocked.

That seemed to be the sense across town on Monday morning, as news of Chantal Berube's passing became known.

On Nov. 26, Berube, 28, developed a pulmonary thromboembolism, more commonly known as a blood clot. As a result, Berube's heart failed her.

The sudden loss of yet another of Beaumont's own, has left those who knew Berube best at a loss for words.

"There a million good things I could say about Chantal," said Kaitlin McGeough, a youth worker at Beaumont's Community Youth Centre (BCYC).

The youth centre, where Berube was supervisor for seven years, opened its doors to the public on Nov. 29 for anyone who wanted to come and honour Berube's memory.

Full of people she had worked with and youth she had mentored, the atmosphere upon walking through the BCYC door's was one of sadness intermingled with an unexpected sense of joy.

It was obvious that Berube had been a warm spirit and a big heart, as those who worked with her, or had the privilege of knowing her, tried their best to maintain a 'joie de vivre' in honour of Berube.

"Chantal was phenomenal and amazing," said McGeough. "She encouraged everyone to be the best we could be. Losing her will have a huge effect on the youth centre. We have some huge shoes to fill."

McGeough, who only began working at the youth centre last March, said that Berube had a profound impact on her.

"Chantal inspired me to do this kind of work in the first place," said McGeough. "This youth centre was her life's work, it was her baby and we have a lot to do to make her proud." Kim Williston, director of Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) at the Town of Beaumont was also Chantal's supervisor at the BCYC.

"I wasn't just Chantal's supervisor, she was my friend as well," said Williston, who said the loss has hit the youth centre community hard.

"Chantal always took the time for kids who may have been overlooked and she took the time to hear them out," said Williston. "She offered those kids support and encouragement."

John Mair, principal at Ecole Secondaire Beaumont Composite High School (ESBCHS), said himself, along with his students and staff are deeply shaken by the loss of such a valued member of the school community.

Berube, who had begun her teaching practicum in September, had been a regular fixture in the halls of ESBCHS, spending every Monday and Wednesday with the students.

Mair credits Berube for bringing the mentorship program at the school back to life. The program, which pairs Grade 12 students with Grade 9 students who might need more support either academically or socially, has been on the back burner for the past two years, said Mair.

Because Berube was doing her practicum at ESBCHS, she was able to start the program up again and make it a unique experience for the students.

Mair said that now more then ever, he intends to ensure that the mentorship program will continue, as it has become very important to his students.

As the community rallies together in this time of great sorrow, it is not hard to fathom the toll that the weekend's events have had on each member of this community.

The deaths of Brad Arsenault, 18, Kole Novak, 18, and Thaddeus Lake, 22, have already left the community's heart with a large gap that can't be filled.

The death of Chantal Berube adds yet another missing piece.

"Chantal has touched so many lives and left a part of her heart and soul with each and every person who has been lucky enough to experience the warmth of her smile and the laugh of her soul," said Jenny Kash, liaison for FCSS.

Perhaps Kash is right, and the part of herself that Berube left behind will be enough to fill that missing piece, and that from great loss one small community will gain great strength.

A foundation has been created in Berube's name, and in lieu of flowers, the Berube family is asking the community to make a small contribution to the Chantal Berube Memorial Fund. Contribution can be sent to:

Town of Beaumont

5600 49 Street

Beaumont, Alberta T4X 1A1

c/o Chantal Berube Memorial Fund

 

Source: The Beaumont News

 

Last updated on: 2012-07-18 | Link to this post