Sometimes life does not seem fair. That’s how I felt when I heard the news about my friend Audrey Allaire on November 4. I was shocked to hear that she had passed away at the young age of 44. All I could think of was that this was really unjust.

Audrey was the face of Wabun Tribal Council in Timmins. I met her when I first became associated with Wabun 14 years ago. Over the years she had accomplished the position of Executive Assistant and in doing so performed a valuable assistance to the organization. Just about everybody in all the Wabun First Nations knew Audrey. She was a problem solver and had some very good organizational and people skills. She knew how to make everybody feel at ease and good about themselves.

Audrey had a great sense of humour and she always had a kind word ready for anyone who appeared at Wabun’s front door. Every Halloween she made sure to bring the kid out in everyone by leading most of the Wabun staff to dress up for the day and share a lot of good laughs. She was a softhearted person but Audrey could also handle tough situations and she made sure everything rolled along smoothly in the Wabun front office.

Last spring she started showing concern over what she and everyone else thought was an ear infection. After seeing a specialist, she got the news of cancer and then started treatment. A short while ago she took time off work to recover and we all thought she was doing OK. I feel sad that I did not get a chance to say goodbye when she was alive but then again I am very happy about all the wonderful hellos my friend Mike and I had with her over the years.

Audrey’s parents Raymond and Dora Allaire certainly did a lot of the right things in raising her. I know from past experience with my own family that a death of one’s child is always the worst possible thing life can hand you and my thoughts and prayers go out to the family in their loss of Audrey. I know that


although her fiancé Pierre Dupuis had a short time with her, I understand that he sees that this time was precious and filled with lots of laughter and kind moments.

Audrey was a member of Matachewan First Nation and originally came to us from Algonquin roots of the Temiskaming First Nation in Quebec. As a First Nation person it was very easy for me to connect with Audrey. I recognized that same type of kind, good-natured way that I recall in so many Native women I know from up the James Bay coast. She also amazed me with her skill for learning new things as demonstrated in her picking up knowledge on computers and website design.

To make things worse on this cold grey day I just found out another Wabun member, Margaret Naveau from Mattagami First Nation, passed away on October 29 at 62 years of age. Margaret was a Sutherland originally from Winisk First Nation or what is now known as Peawanuck First Nation on the Hudson Bay coast. She spoke the same Cree dialect as me and I enjoyed chatting with her in our own language whenever we met up. She leaves her husband Normand Naveau and many children. Margaret was another one of those wise, strong, kind and good-natured First Nation women.

Nothing I can ever say will make the hurt go away for any of Audrey’s or Margaret’s family and friends but I know that their wonderful lives will have an enormous positive affect on everyone they knew far into the future.

At first thought I feel robbed of two wonderful women and at too young an age. I am sad, as are many, that we won’t have the opportunity to see Audrey and Margaret again. The best we can do is to carry on feeling really great that we were lucky to spend time with these two. To keep their memory alive we can pass on stories, memories and anecdotes to others we meet along our way. I hope I have done a little bit of that here in these words today.