The Cree Health Board suffered a tremendous loss this past year with the untimely passing, in March 2011, of Jimmy Deschenes, former Chief of the Department of Medicine and long-time doctor serving many Cree communities.
Jimmy was born in Montreal on November 28, 1964 and was raised by his parents Gilles and Caterina in Laval.
He attended McGill University Medical School, obtaining his degree in 1990. He completed his Family Medicine Residency in 1992 and passed his Emergency Medicine examination in 2000.
At the age of 17, Jimmy was diagnosed with cancer which had spread to his spine. With the support of his family during his intensive treatment with chemo and radiotherapy, he overcame the odds and survived.
As a teenager, he played many sports but he particularly excelled in tennis and was ranked as one of the top players in Quebec in his age category. As an adult, drawn by the possibility to fish remote spots, he became a canoe enthusiast, quickly developing into an expert whitewater paddler. He canoed and fished many river systems in Northern Quebec, Labrador, and Nunavut, including the Corvette-Pontois, Corbin-Roggan, Nastapoka, Clearwater, and Koroc. The stunning scenery of these wild areas allowed him to fulfill his passion for photography. Some of his best works can be seen lining the corridors of the Chisasibi Hospital and in the south reception centre in LaVerendrye Park.
Jimmy was an avid inventor. He worked tirelessly to develop a variety of sports-related devices that would improve one’s speed and power.
He began working as a physician in Chisasibi in August 1992 with the intention of staying “a couple of years”. He also worked from 1992-1997 as the physician travelling to the communities of Whapmagoostui, Nemaska and Wemindji. For many of these years, he held the position of Chief of the Department of Medicine for the region. His love for the people and the land kept him in Chisasibi until his untimely death of multiple sclerosis on March 10, 2011, at the age of 46.
He is survived by his mother, Caterina, his father Gilles, his brother Alcide, sisters Nadine and Lila, his nephews, his uncle, his cousins, and many loving friends.
He was loved and admired all of his life and will be loved admired and missed forever.
Author: Dr. Michael Lefson