Prince Rupert care home resident remembered by her Haida family as a great life mentor

·3 min read

Arnie Nagy is still mourning for his aunt, a matriarch of her Haida family who passed away due to a COVID-19 outbreak in her long-term care home in Prince Rupert, B.C.

Lois Yeomans, a member of the Haida's Sgajuuga.ahl clan and the granddaughter of the clan's chief, passed away at 85 on Jan. 30, more than a week after a coronavirus outbreak was declared at Acropolis Manor.

Nagy fondly remembers Yeomans as a person full of optimism who instilled life lessons to the children in her extended family.

"She was a woman that had a lot of laughter, a lot of smiles, and then a great sense of humour that really brought smiles and happiness to a lot of the people that she met and all of her friends and family," he said to Carolina de Ryk, the host of CBC's Daybreak North.

"She taught me to always have a positive outlook, always to have a sense of humour but take life very seriously," Nagy said. "[She said] 'whatever you do in life, you give 100 per cent.'"

Vulnerable care home residents

This week, 25 residents and 15 staff members of Acropolis Manor tested positive for the highly infectious disease. Nine residents have lost their lives to the virus.

Nagy says he has been employed as a maintenance worker at the facility and knew many residents like Yeomans would be vulnerable in the event of an outbreak.

"I was deeply concerned and worried," he said. "I was hoping and praying that she would be one of the fortunate residents that didn't catch COVID-19, but unfortunately that wasn't the case."

Memorial service on hold

Yeomans's body has been sent to Terrace — a 1½- hour ride from Prince Rupert — for cremation, but no memorial service for her has been planned because many family members live in the Lower Mainland and aren't able to travel up north under pandemic restrictions.

"It's very difficult because our family has always been tight knit," Nagy said. "It creates a lot of anger that we aren't allowed to show our respects in the way we traditionally do for our aunt."

But Nagy tries to transform his frustration into something constructive.

"I can't allow that anger to consume me because I can't pay the true honour to my late aunt," he said. "What I can do … is … to tell people this isn't a joke, this isn't a game, this isn't a conspiracy. This is reality. People are dying from this."

Matt Allen/CBC
Matt Allen/CBC

St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Prince Rupert has set up a makeshift memorial in front of Acropolis Manor — with fresh flowers and balloons — to honour Yeomans and other deceased care home residents.

Tap the link below to hear the conversation between Diana Edis, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, and CBC story producer Matt Allen on Daybreak North:

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