Destroyed vehicles are seen outside of the Splendid Hotel Jan. 18 in the aftermath of an an attack by extremists in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Six of the 29 people killed in the attack, including four members of one family, were volunteers from Quebec with connections to the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. CNS photo/Wouter Elsen, EPA

Aid workers remembered as people who touched lives

By  Alan Hustak, Catholic Register Special
  • February 8, 2016

Six Canadian aid workers killed in a terrorist attack in Burkina Faso last month were remembered at their respective funerals on Feb. 6 as humanitarians who touched lives and left people on two continents in mourning.

They were among 29 people slain in an attack by Islamic extremists who stormed a hotel and a coffee shop on January 15.  All were volunteers with Congregation des soeurs de Notre Dame du Perpetual Help (the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help), which has had a mission in Africa since 1955.

A joint funeral for Yves Carrier, 65, his wife Gladys Chamberland, 54, their adult son Charlelie, 21, and Yves' adult daughter, Maude, 37, as well as their friend Louis Chabot, was held at Eglise Tres St. Sacrament church in the Quebec City suburb of St. Foy.  Frederic Carrier wanted the  funeral at Tres St. Sacrement instead of at the cathedral  because the parish had helped finance his father’s humanitarian projects in Africa.

“They sold coffee and cakes and calendars and even held spaghetti suppers in the basement to help finance my dad’s humanitarian efforts," he said. "These were the people who supported him.”

Earlier in the day, a private family ceremony for the sixth victim, Suzanne Bernier, was held at St. Thomas Aquinas parish church near the Laval University Campus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several other politicians attended both funerals even though some members of the Carrier family had earlier expressed unhappiness with him. When Trudeau phoned to offer his condolences after the attack, Maude Carrier’s husband hung up on him because he thought the gesture was insincere, and Maude’s mother was critical of  the government’s decision to pull Canada's CF-18 jet fighters from the Middle East. But Trudeau was graciously received at the funerals.

The  Eucharist at the joint funeral in St. Foy was con-celebrated by Quebec’s auxiliary bishop Gaétan Proulx and Bishop Pierre Claver Malgo from Fada-N’Gourma in Burkina Faso. Among the standing-room crowd that packed the church was Sr.  Ines Kolesnore, from the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception in Ouagadougou.

“We have come all this way to say thank you for all they have done for us, for everything they have given us,  even their lives. In the end they sacrificed their lives to help us,” said Malgo.  “It was through them that we in Burkina Faso learned how good Canadians could be. They helped us move forward.”

At the end of the Mass, seven white doves were released — one for each victim and one as a symbol of peace.

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