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Caregivers in Sudbury recognized as heroes

“She would do the same if it was the other way,” he said, unable to hold back tears. The couple has been married for 53 years, but there are times Bernadette does not remember her husband.
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Gerry Bertrand, right, was recognized Wednesday for his work as his wife Bernadette Bertrand's primary caregiver at the North East Community Care Access Centre's Heroes in the Home ceremony. Photo by Jonathan Migneault.
“She would do the same if it was the other way,” he said, unable to hold back tears.

The couple has been married for 53 years, but there are times Bernadette does not remember her husband. Bertrand said her most vivid memories go back to her childhood and teen years, before they met.

“At first it's hard, but after a while, that's the way it is,” he said.

On Wednesday, the North East Community Care Access Centre recognized Bertrand for his dedication to his wife's care at the annual Heroes in the Home event.

Bertrand was one of 18 caregivers honoured for their sacrifices and dedication to their loved ones and patients.

“He doesn't feel he needs to be recognized or validated, but we see. day after day what he has to go through,” said Mariette Koziki, a public education co-ordinator with the Alzheimer Society Sudbury-Manitoulin.

Koziki nominated Bertrand for the award, but said if she had it her way, all the family caregivers she meets on the job would be recognized in the same way.

“To me they're all heroes,” she said.

Aissa Diaz, a client service delivery co-ordinator with Red Cross Care Partners, was also recognized as a hero in the home Wednesday. Diaz and her husband, Joeven, moved to Sudbury from the Philippines in 2012. Six months after their arrival in Canada, Joeven was diagnosed with leukemia.

Diaz cared for her husband, but continued to work throughout most of his treatment. When he was brought to Ottawa for radiation therapy, she visited him on weekends and returned to Sudbury on Sunday evenings so she could work the next morning.

Joeven died March 4 at the age of 35.

Diaz said she cried when she learned her colleagues nominated her for the award.

“They know my journey from the beginning,” she said.

Her dream is to become a doctor, and said she plans to pursue that goal next year, after she has had time to resume her life.

She recently completed her accreditation to have her bachelor of science and physiotherapy from the Philippines recognized in Canada. That is the first step toward her dream, she said.

Darren MacDonald

About the Author: Darren MacDonald

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