TORONTO, LAC-MEGANTIC, QUE. – The mother of a 28-year-old aspiring singer said her daughter went into the Musi-Café bar for just a minute, and is now among the 50 presumed dead after a train derailed and exploded in the town of Lac-Megantic, Que.
“She was ready to leave at one o’clock, she went in to get a bottle of water—that is what her boyfriend said… And I think that minute was too much,” said Ginette Cameron, mother of Geneviève Breton. “Because she would never come out.”
Cameron didn’t know anything about the fiery explosions that destroyed the downtown core, until she got a call from her daughter’s boyfriend in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“Her boyfriend called me, he asked me if she was home and I said no. I didn’t know anything about Lac-Megantic,” said Cameron. “Finally on Saturday, my husband went at five o’clock to see what was happening, because I was calling her, texting her and usually she answers me right away.”
Cameron said the first information they got was that no one was hurt, and her husband was told no one was admitted to hospital. She said the first day they were in shock, but didn’t think anyone had died.
Once information began to emerge, Genevieve’s mother said speaking to the investigator was the hardest part.
“He said, ‘Look at me in my eyes: there is no hope, that’s it.’ That’s the first thing he wanted to tell me,” she explained. Two or three hours of questions followed, “and after that, we said, well it must be true.”
Cameron described her daughter as strong and funny, making jokes all the time. Since she was 14, she wanted to be a singer, and entered “every contest in Quebec.” When she realized how difficult being a professional musician would be, her mother said she moved from Montreal to Sherbrooke last year, enrolling in a teaching program for primary school.
“She was always smiling,” said Cameron. “We’ve been reading all the comments on her Facebook… everybody says the same thing –she was lovely to everyone, gorgeous, she helped everybody. She even helped a lot of people I didn’t know of.”
Cameron said her daughter spent two months living with her and her husband this summer, treating her “like a queen” as she recovered from surgery.
“She was the sunshine to us, and to everybody,” she said.
Cameron said she can’t get to sleep, doesn’t want to cook or eat, and feels worse every day. Every time she hears the phone ring, she hopes it’s Genevieve, but a visit to her apartment in Sherbrooke on Monday dampened her hopes.
“When I opened the door, I saw it was very empty. I said, well she’s not anywhere.”
Though she knows it’s unlikely, Cameron said until police confirm they’ve found her daughter, in her heart, she’ll still have a little bit of hope.
In the meantime, she’s listened to a song her daughter recorded on an almost-finished CD. She said it hurts to listen to it, but it may be worth it.
“Maybe she’ll stay with us forever with this… other people won’t have that,” said Cameron. “And maybe for us, it’s a privilege to have her voice somewhere.”