Yvette Pigeon

On the passing of Yvette Pigeon
Associate Editor
True North Perspective

Yvette Pigeon relaxes with Annabelle, with whom she shared much joy.
Yvette Pigeon relaxes with Annabelle, with whom she shared much joy
At 09:45, Tuesday, March 16, 2010, Yvette Thérèse Malvin Pigeon (nee Gagnier), Associate Editor of True North Perspective, died with a cry of triumph. Yvette had finally won her war against the cruel disease called Pulmonary Fibrosis. She was 75.
Born October 14, 1934, Yvette was a prime example of the wisdom that flowers from a happy marriage between intelligence and experience. Aside from positive continuing critical judgment on the development of True North Perspective, she was a financial contributor who fed economic lifeblood that nurtured our independent reports on events and ideas from throughout the world while keeping an eye on the French-language media that kept us in tune with what was happening in the French-speaking world.
Yvette travelled a long way from the tiny French-speaking country crossroads, farming village of Pain Court (Shortbread), 10 kilometers west of Chatham, the seat of Kent County, about 100 kilometres east of the industrial border city of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Her forbears had arrived in Canada about 300 years ago. Yvette was raised Roman Catholic. Her early formal education was delivered by priests and nuns, "Don't read the Bible; we'll interpret it for you." As time went along, Yvette practiced her own interpretation of not only the Bible but of all prejudices handed to her as philosophical premises written in stone.
Her grandfather and father were community leaders with strong links to provincial government cabinet ministers in Toronto. Among many of her father's achievements was the introduction of school-busing to feed a district school he had initiated to raise the level of sophistication of education for French-speaking children in Kent County.
Like most social innovators, he was reviled by those who lacked the imagination to understand the benefits of the new system. At one point seven drunken louts in a pickup truck drove past Yvette's father's country store, mockingly shouting, "Le maire! Le maire!" They drove full speed 10 kilometres west off a lagoon dock at Mitchell's Bay on Lake St. Clair, and drowned in 5 metres of water.

Yvette Pigeon, remembered ...

Mixed powerful feelings — sadness / loss and relief at suffering ended are how we describe our reactions to the news of this death.

Another friend gone and then come flooding in the memories and the words to characterize this good woman.

Smart, sensitive, generous, compassionate, worldly-wise, capable, fun ... and more.

Hanna and I had a lovely visit with Yvette just 10 days ago. She was calm and prepared and so lucid about her 'fortunate' situation of having been able to prepare for her death and to ensure her personal affairs were in order and to express her love for those closest to her and to have felt loved.

We laughed together at the rather odd situation of knowing death lies just ahead being 'good fortune'.

Yvette was a fine dame and we remember her with great affection.

Nick Aplin and Hanna Clemann

Warm hearted, intelligent, generous, caring — we pay tribute to a truly exceptional person who overcame many adversities and brightened the lives of those privileged to know her.

We remember fondly the happy times. We have been fortunate to have been treated with warm welcome into her home, and spent memorable visits together, not to mention her gourmet cooking. And special occasions when Yvette and Carl would come our way for Marcel's orchestra concerts, New Years, or at the cottage. And we admire her bravery, her last visit to our place, the oxygen tanks she took in her stride.

Sadly, we say goodbye to Dear Yvette, more than a friend, forever cherished in our family circle too.

Lillian and Marcel Chojnacki

Mother Nature isn't reflecting the human condition as Shakespeare would have us believe: the sun is shining but we feel sad and desolate.

Just before she died we sent her the following note.

"We know that you are aware but we wanted to remind you of how important you are to us. Your warmth, wit and humour have brightened many family occasions. We appreciate your kind hospitality, your sharing in our happy celebrations and your easing us through moments of grief. Thank you for being a good friend. Our thoughts and hearts are with you."

Yvette was a strong, yet practical, forward looking person, open-minded and willing to learn.

We will always remember and be inspired by her strength, grace and good humour in the face of imminent death.

Vivian and Walter Kotorynski
Central Sannich, Vancouver Island

I liked her energy, her enterprise, her politics, and her gourmet cooking.

— Barry Rutland, Ottawa


When Yvette told me the story, she recalled how sad her father had been when he learned of the tragedy.

The experience fed Yvette's understanding of the failings of blind faith as opposed to critical analysis.
Yvette was one of the most stable, courageous, and honest persons I have ever met.
One of the strengths I experienced with her is what I was to label The Stanley Street Stare, in tribute to her calm, steady resolve under fire.
On Stanley Street, in downtown Montreal, Yvette, behind the wheel, which was her preferred place whenever we drove anywhere, we found a tight parking space just outside the restaurant that was our destination. As Yvette, an excellent driver, was edging the car into place, two couples came out of the eatery and decided to give her heartfelt blind advice. All contradictory of course. They saw the Ontario license, presumed she was an English-speaker, and freely spoke in French saying things like, "Where did she get her license? In a Cracker Jack box!?!"
There was a man filling the space in front with incomprehensible gestures.
Yvette shut off the motor. Placed both hands on the wheel. Sat back and closed her eyes.
Her advisors fell silent and faded.
Through the years I've seen her use The Stanley Street Stare to diffuse moments of crises among others.
There are many memories. One that was special to us was when we took a 1,600 kilometre tour through the British Columbia mountains. When we arrived at Nelson, at the southeast corner of the province, the place was jammed with a convention. The only room we could find was one with a brick wall about six feet away. In the land of views, we agreed that in that room we had the most peaceful night of the trip.
With her paternal genetic inheritance it was no surprise to those who engaged her at that level that Yvette had a keen interest in political and economic developments. Many of her friends and even members of her family, who naturally and typically mostly talked about themselves — after all, what does grandma know, except to bake cookies — had no idea of the depth and breadth of her interests. (She always had two or more novels on the go. She had a special interest in historical novels.)
Through the years Yvette grew from an ordinary mind that talks about people (gossip) to a better mind that talked of events, to a best mind that considered ideas.
She was to observe, for example, that both Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff were both cut from the same conservative cloth. "The only difference is that Ignatieff is not a fanatic."
At about 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, Yvette was to rise out of delirium caused by oxygen deprivation and call out, "Carl! When am I going to win this war?" She wanted to die rather than continue her losing battle against pulmonary fibrosis.
"Soon sweetheart!" I replied. "You'll win very soon."
It took three more days. She was strong of body, despite her illness. At about 09.30 on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, two nurses came in to "turn her over". I waited in a chair in the hallway just outside her door. A few minutes later I heard a clear cry of victory and a second or two later, one of the nurses came out and announced that Yvette had just died. It was 09:45.
By her will she left us without religious ceremony. She had long concluded that when one dies, the lights simply go out. So while alive, make the best of what you've got. This was her practice. She chose cremation. Her ashes are divided between her two daughters Colette and Nicole.
We are all many things to many people. To me Yvette was best friend, best lover, and best colleague. My heart is sorely tested at losing her.
Ten years ago, Yvette said to me, "Carl, I don't know what I'd do if I lost you." I said, "I don't know what I'd do if I lost you." Now I'm finding out.
She will live forever in the Archives of True North Perspective.
Looking forward.
Carl Dow

Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective