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Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 - The Late Mrs. Flora Thibodeau

The Late Mrs. Flora Thibodeau

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, each year for the past three years, I have had the privilege of sharing with you the story of an extraordinary woman from my home province on the occasion of her birthday. It is with great sadness that I rise today to tell you that Flora Thibodeau passed away on January 22, 2014, at the age of 112 years and 309 days. She was the oldest person in Canada who was born in Canada and she was the 17th oldest person in the world.

Until recently, she lived at home, and received around 10 hours a day of in-house assistance. Although her health had deteriorated in recent months, she remained sharp until the end.

[English]

Born on March 20, 1901, during the worst storm of the year, in Rogersville, New Brunswick, Madame Thibodeau was the eldest of a family of six children. She had one sister, four brothers and three half-sisters. Madame Thibodeau had seven children, five of whom are still with us. She had 17 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great grandchildren.

Having lost her husband at an early age and with her seven children aged between one and thirteen, Madame Thibodeau is an inspiration for all of us. She was determined to provide for her family. At first, she supported her family with a small farm and only received a monthly pension of $5 per child to support her family. Later on, she became a teacher and was the first woman manager of the local caisse populaire branch, just to name a few of her accomplishments.

In times when women struggled to find their place, she was an exceptional mother, while striving with her career.

[Translation]

Ms. Thibodeau witnessed all of the significant moments and the inventions of the past century: the telephone, two world wars, the first car, the Titanic tragedy and so on. What is most remarkable is that at the age of 112 she still clearly remembered many events, such as the arrival of the first car in Rogersville. When she shared that story, the emotion she felt that day was evident and she was transported back in time. She welcomed every visitor with a smile and loved to talk about history and politics.

[English]

As her grandchildren described her two years ago, at the age of 110:

Her abundance of knowledge, sharp wit, dry sense of humour and zest for life allows her to be a contributing member of her community, with young and old alike. Even though the distance is great between us, she is held near and dear to our hearts. It is an honour to call her our grandmother, and we cherish the time we've been given with her.

Madame Thibodeau will be deeply missed by her family but also by her community.

[Translation]

I had met with her a number of times at her home since her 100th birthday. It was an honour and a privilege to speak with her, hear her story and see that even at the age of 112, she was filled with joie de vivre and had a warm heart.

Honourable senators, join me in expressing our sympathy to the family of Flora Thibodeau, a very special woman, but most of all a remarkable mother who was loved by all. Thank you.

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