The Legacy of Simone Bernard, Chisasibi Nurse

May 08, 2017
Simone Bernard giving Misty Shisheesh her first bath in 2000

On April 28, 2017 the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay and the Cree Nation lost a piece of our history with the passing of Simone Bernard Lameboy, wife of George Lameboy and mother of Pauline, Melanie and Marie Claude. She leaves a lasting legacy to the Cree Health Board and to the history of healthcare and nursing practice in Eeyou Istchee.

 “I want the Cree Health Board to recognize that my mother dedicated her life, her career, to us,” said Melanie Lameboy, Simone’s daughter. Melanie took the time to share these memories on the very day her mother died, because she and her sisters want the Cree Health Board to understand the depth of the impact that their mom had on this organization. 

Born in Sainte-Hélène-de-Mancebourg, in the Abitibi, she came to Fort George as a young nurse in the late 1960’s, to “help the Indians,” as her parents said. It was the start of a new life. “My mom became Cree,” said Melanie. As proof: “When she wasn’t feeling well, she craved our traditional food.” She married George Lameboy, lived through the relocation of the community in 1981, and was part of the original nursing team of Chisasibi Hospital. 

For over 35 years, Simone Bernard Lameboy was a mentor and a support to every person who worked at the Hospital, especially her fellow nurses. Her physician at the end of her life, palliative specialist Dr. Vanessa Cardy, remembered how Simone showed her the ropes when she first came to work at the Hospital. Waswanipi nurse Eleanor Gull received her orientation from Simone eight years ago. She remembers a “feisty little lady” known for her compassion. “She worked until she couldn’t anymore,” said her daughter Melanie. Simone renewed her nursing permit even after her cancer diagnosis, and closed her employee file only this year. The Hospital was her second home, her baby, and the place where she spent her life. She died there in the morning of April 28, 2017. 

At least two, and possibly even threegenerations of Chisasibi Eeyouch came into this world with the help of Simone Bernard Lameboy. Simone’s daughters want to identify all the people whose birth was assisted by their mother. They plan to give them a pink or blue ribbon, and they will give a navy blue ribbon (their mother’s favourite colour) to everyone who was a patient of their mother’s. People can get in touch with Pauline Lameboy on Facebook to let them know that they are part of this group of people who owe so much to Simone. 

Melanie expressed gratitude on behalf of the family to Dr. Vanessa Cardy. Simone fought until the end with dignity, courage and determination.