Hélène Lavoie (née Tremblay) was unilingual French until she was in her twenties. Having spent periods of her life in Quebec, the Bahamas and Toronto for the last 37 years, she had become fluently bilingual in French and English. Surprisingly, in 2008, she lost her ability to communicate in English because of dementia. Her language of communication had then become French which was her first language learned in childhood.
A resident of Toronto since 1973, she had to move in 2008 to the Foyer Richelieu home in Welland to have access to a French long-term care bed as there was no such long-term bed available at that time in southern Ontario between Ottawa and Welland. She was later transferred at the age of 83 to the Pavillon Omer Deslauriers section of Bendale Acres of Scarborough in one of the 37 long-term care beds allocated to Francophones, which had become available. She passed away on April 6, 2010.
So that others don’t have to face the challenges that she had to face at the end of her life, a foundation bearing her name was created by Hélène’s daughter, Sylvie Lavoie.
The Hélène Tremblay Lavoie Foundation was created in 2010 to help address a critical lack of long-term care for Francophones in the Toronto region. The Foundation is leading the way on behalf of Francophones, especially those in the later stages of their lives, to have the opportunity to live in French and enjoy a quality of life that they deserve, and that is equal to what all Ontarians have the right to expect.