QUEBEC CITY, – Family and friends of the six Quebecers who were killed in the terrorist attack in Burkina Faso are reacting with shock and disbelief over the deaths.
Friends, a Quebec school board, and media outlets said four of the victims were from the same family: Yves Carrier, his wife Gladys Chamberland, their adult son Charlelie Carrier and Yves’ adult daughter Maude Carrier.
All six were travelling to Africa together to take part in a humanitarian mission, said Sister Yolande Blier, a representative of the Quebec-City religious community that helped co-ordinate the trip. She confirmed the other two victims were Louis Chabot and Suzanne Bernier.
They were among at least 28 who died when terrorists stormed a luxury hotel in the capital Ouagadougou late Friday.
Karine Paquet, who has been friends with Maude Carrier since high school, said her close friend seemed emotional over the phone the night before she left for Africa.
“It was painful for her to leave her two little daughters to go there, but at the same time she knew she would live an extraordinary experience,” she said.
She said volunteering for a humanitarian mission was in keeping with her friend’s generous personality and love of helping others.
“I never knew someone who didn’t love Maude,” she said. “She had a beautiful soul, a marvellous generosity, she knew how to welcome people, she was respectful and loving… the most beautiful person I ever met.”
Blier, who worked in Burkina Faso from 1989 to last year, knew Yves Carrier and Chamberland and described them as committed humanitarians who made several visits to the region.
“I think they fell in love with Burkina Faso,” she said. “They loved the values of the Burkinabe, they loved the welcome there,” she said.
A school board in Quebec City said four of the six victims were current or retired teachers in the Quebec City area.
“The commission scholaire de la Capitale learned with dismay of the death of two members of our teaching staff as well as two retired principals in the attacks Friday in Burkina Faso,” it wrote on its Facebook page.
The board said Maude Carrier and Chabot were both secondary school teachers. Yves Carrier was an assistant principal before his retirement, and Bernier had been an administrator at two elementary schools before she retired in 2010.
A music program for one of the commission’s schools said three of the victims worked there.
“We have all been blessed to know them. They will always be some of the kindest, most authentic and generous people we have known,” the Musique Brebeuf program wrote on its page.
It specified that Yves Carrier was the former assistant principal of the school until his retirement a few years ago.
“We all remember the slogan ‘the best school in town,’ of which he was the author,” the post read.
The post also stated that Chabot once taught math at the school and that Maude Carrier taught French to young children.
“Today, mourning and grief overwhelm us,” it read. “But our thoughts are with Yves Richard, spouse of Maude, and their two daughters who live these difficult times.”
The school board announced that classes would be cancelled at both Jean-de-Brebeuf and Cardinal Roy high schools on Monday, and support services would be offered to staff and students affected by the tragedies.
Yves and Glady’s son Charlelie Carrier was a student and avid outdoorsman who spent his summers working at a local camp, according to a friend.
“He was a great friend, he loved children, adored his family and friends,” Laurie Gagnon said in an email.
A spokesman for Quebec’s natural resources ministry confirmed that Gladys Chamberland had worked for the department since 2008 and was a communications specialist who worked with the mining sector.
Nicolas Begin said Chamberland who was someone who was always pleasant and helpful to work with. He said she’d done some fundraising for her humanitarian trips.
“It was something that animated her, that she held close to her heart and believed in,” he said.
According to Rose-Anne Rousseau, member of a Quebec-City religious community that helped co-ordinate the trip, the group had spent much of its time in Africa helping to paint and repair a school.
She said the majority of the group had been in Africa since just before Christmas, and three of the six were expected to fly out the evening of the attacks.
“They had come to pack their bags and have dinner together before heading to the airport,” she said.