The late Lady of Lo-Se-Ca
Ferne Carignan 1930-2014
Saturday, Aug 09, 2014 06:00 am
The lady who helped found the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation is now enjoying her eternal rest after a lifetime filled with love, service and care. Ferne Carignan passed away suddenly at home on Monday, July 21. She was 84.
Carignan, a devout Catholic, dedicated her life to her family, her church and the community, and touched the lives of many people throughout St. Albert and the surrounding region. Her son Claude said that he and his siblings were “blessed” to have had her as a mom for all of the love that she offered and lessons that she imparted to them.
“She gave us all the special gift of her wisdom, counsel and work ethic to do the best that we can with our families and with work,” he began.
“She was a strong believer that giving back to the community was our rent as Christian beings living on this earth.”
Ferne was born in Ponteix, Saskatchewan in 1930. She was still a teenager when she took a job in the town’s only bank in order to help out with the finances of the house, as her parents had 12 mouths to feed. This first moment of gainful employment led to her placing an importance on taking care of money that would last the rest of her life.
Soon afterward, she began to work at the General Store, which is where she first met Armand, the man she would marry in 1949. They moved to Edmonton in 1956 before deciding that St. Albert was the right place for them the following year.
As Armand frequently worked out of town, the business of the home was left in her capable hands. She worked tirelessly to provide excellent care of both the family and the finances. She was also actively involved with Grandin Faith and Light, a long-time member of the Catholic Women’s League, a very active member of the St. Albert Parish, and a Eucharistic minister at Sunday mass.
“She was very nurturing, caring. She was definitely the individual who kept everything going. My dad did a lot of out-of-town work so Mom took on the role of caring for and raising the children, and also looking for other opportunities for the family to get involved in things that were of importance and help the family.”
Over the course of the couple’s 65-year union, they brought seven children into the world. This included Adele, a girl whose disabilities never hindered the strength of the family unit, only presenting it with new challenges of love and devotion. Options were few anyway, so Ferne tended to her daughter’s needs in the home. When Ferne started reaching her elderly years, however, a new opportunity needed to be discovered.
“In looking around the community and in the area, there really wasn’t much that wasn’t institutionalized. They certainly didn’t want that for their daughter. Mom had been caring for my sister for a number of years. They needed to ensure that she had some place to go that was nurturing and caring and comfortable for [Adele]. That’s when they started the foundation.”
The Carignans, along with three other couples, began Lo-Se-Ca, a Christian non-profit organization that provides various levels of supports to adults with developmental disabilities.
It started out with one group home where people like Adele could live with professional caregivers working to assist their activities on a daily basis. Now with an annual budget of $8 million, Lo-Se-Ca operates 25 such homes in St. Albert and Edmonton, employs approximately 130 people and has 80 clients.
In addition, it offers employment supports to help its clients obtain and keep jobs. Lo-Se-Ca also runs two small businesses including a lawn mowing business and a pizza business to employ some of its clients. It also has a seniors program for those clients who have dementia issues in addition to their disabilities.
There is also the I’m Unique Thrift Store that Ferne started with Ada Curial a few years after the organization was founded. The secondhand shop serves as one of the major fundraisers for the organization that helps so many.
For their work to start Lo-Se-Ca, the Carignans were inducted into St. Albert’s Community Recognition program in the Citizenship – Community Builder category in 2011. Ferne’s service to family and community also earned her a Mother of the Year Certificate from the Ladies Auxiliary of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, two Volunteer Certificates of Appreciation for the United Nations International Women’s Day Celebration and a Volunteer Certificate of Appreciation from the Government of Canada. She was also nominated to be the St. Albert Volunteer Citizen of the Year in 2004.
“She said that when we enter heaven, there is a special chair for each volunteer that has given unselfishly of their time to others,” Claude remarked.
Ferne spent the last few years of her life living in comfort with Armand in the Citadel Mews.
The community mourns her loss along with Carignan’s family including her husband of 65 years, Armand, seven children, her siblings, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial and mass of Christian burial have already been held.
The family has asked that memorial donations be made in her name to the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation. Call the organization at 780-460-1400 for instructions.
Condolences can be left through the funeral home website at www.connelly-mckinley.com.