The victim of a tragic grizzly bear attack in the Yukon is being remembered as a talented teacher with a love of the outdoors and an infectious smile.
Valérie Théorêt and her 10-month-old daughter Adele Roesholt were mauled to death by a bear on Monday outside their remote cabin northeast of Mayo.
The child’s father, Gjermund Roesholt, shot the bear dead when it charged him as he was returning from his trap line.
In Whitehorse, where the family was based, the community was reeling on Wednesday.
“Disbelief. Like, it’s not true that she’s gone,” colleague Michel Emery told Global News.
WATCH: Memorial service held for mother, baby killed by grizzly bear
Friend Rene Lapierre said Théorêt was “a magnet to kids,” and always brightened a room with her presence.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen her picture, but her smile is quite beautiful,” he said. “Always smiling, always a very happy person.”
He said Théorêt and her partner had only just hit their stride — after trying for years to have a baby.
“When they finally got pregnant, she was so happy, it was incredible,” he said.
The couple were experienced backcountry adventurers, he said, and passionate about their remote cabin, adding, “It looked like a dream place.”
“Every time she talked to me about that trap line and that place, it was like heaven for them. She was always happy and smiling talking about that place,” he said.
“They were worried that a baby wouldn’t fit so much on a trap line, but [the child] was rolling with everything and she had a blast playing outside and in the cabin, and it was natural for her.
“They were living the dream.”
Flags were flown at half-staff on Wednesday at Whitehorse Elementary, where Théorêt had worked for more than half a decade.
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Vice-principal Bruce Dent said there was an outpouring of support for staff and students from the district and other schools, but that those who knew Théorêt are still at a loss for words.
“She taught Grade 3 at one point, she taught Grade 6 at one point. And all of those students, they have great memories of her. She really had a lot of success with them,” he said.
“We had kids come back from the high school yesterday who had been in her class years before, and they were shaken by it.”
Théorêt’s partner has returned to Whitehorse, where Lapierre said he is being supported by friends. His and Théorêt’s parents are flying to Whitehorse to join him.
“He’s probably made of concrete or steel, I don’t know how he can hold his thing together, it’s just unreal,” he said.
A memorial for the mother and child is planned at the Association Franco-Yukonaise for Thursday.
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