It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Valerie Doucet, December 8, 2018, on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, where she died peacefully, surrounded by family.
Valerie came of age on the picturesque shores of Youghall Beach, in Bathurst, New Brunswick, where she eventually met the love of her life – her husband, Bernie. Together, they raised six children.
Valerie’s bond to her family ran deep. She nurtured her children’s individuality, imparted the rich traditions of their Acadian heritage, and encouraged them to reach for the stars.
She had a heart of gold from which her children learned love, tenderness, forgiveness, and compassion. She was also spirited and passionate, with a backbone of steel; a principled trailblazer who spoke out against oppression and injustice. And, she had an iron will – which meant she never shied away from an argument.
Those who knew Valerie admired her sharp mind and wit; impressive artistic, creative, and musical abilities; and angelic voice – opera being her favourite musical genre.
Mischievous by nature, if she wanted to ruffle her children while they were still unruly teenagers, she would belt out Carmen’s L’amour est un oiseau rebel or another favourite aria – right in front of their friends. At the time, her children were deeply embarrassed by their coloratura soprano matriarch. But now, they would move mountains to hear her sing, or to seek her wise counsel, or to hear her big beautiful belly laugh just one more time.
While Valerie hummed, whistled, and sang wherever she could – most recently with her beloved Salt Spring Island’s Lost Chords and United Church choir – she also sought quiet and stillness through her spiritual connection with nature. She communed with the forest, harvesting its precious delicacies, foraging weekly batches of freshly picked morels or salmonberries to share with guests at her dinner table.
Devoted to giving back in other ways, Valerie also volunteered for UNICEF, Salt Spring’s Lady Minto’s Women’s Auxiliary Thrift Store, and as a peer counsellor for the Island’s Seniors for Seniors program. Throughout her long, rich life, she engaged in a variety of professional pursuits too – from working as a lab technician to a real estate agent, medical device analyst, and then, as a translator.
She remained active in her adopted community of Salt Spring until she was struck by dementia more than a decade ago – an illness she faced with courage, grace, and dignity. While dementia eventually robbed her of her ability to communicate with words, Valerie never stopped recognizing her children’s voices or her husband’s name – Bernie, whom she lovingly called “my man.”
Valerie is predeceased by her husband, Bernard Doucet, and her daughter Denise (Rocco Ciancio). She leaves behind her sister Jeanette Davis (Fred), brothers Frederic Arsenault (Claudette) and Michel Arsenault, and five children: Louise (Doug Motherwell), Suzanne (Hulber Gagliardini), Carol-Anne (Randy Chambers), Joey, and Paul.
Also mourning her loss are her grandchildren Claire, Jesson, Nicholas, Chloe, Jacob, Jean-Philippe, Matthew, and Christopher, as well as many in-laws, nephews and nieces, extended family members, and friends.
Besides her parents, Antoine and Rosella (Lil) (Gallant) Arsenault, Valerie was predeceased by her sister Marie Arsenault.
The Doucet family wishes to thank the staff of Greenwoods who treated their mother with compassion and attended so lovingly to her needs.
A celebration of Valerie’s life will be held at the Salt Spring Island Lions Club on Saturday, February 23, at 1:30 pm. If you would like to make a donation in Valerie’s name, please consider the Gulf Island’s Families Together Society.