‘Figure of hope’ praised for role in COVID-19 fight after her death


A Quebec woman who was the first person in Canada to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has died.

Gisèle Lévesque, 89, died peacefully of natural causes last Monday, surrounded by family, according to the public health authority in Quebec City.

The health authority said her death was not related to COVID-19.

Lévesque received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last Dec. 14 at the CHSLD St-Antoine, a long-term care home in Quebec City.

“The first citizen of the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on December 14, Ms. Lévesque was a figure of hope in the fight against COVID-19,” the health authority said in statement issued on Sunday.

READ MORE: First Quebecer receives coronavirus vaccine as rollout begins in long-term care homes

A native of Rimouski, Que., she lived in Quebec City.

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Lévesque, who never married and did not have children, is survived by her brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends, according to her published obituary.

The retired National Bank employee was very calm and direct about being No. 1 on the list, according to her nieces, saying simply: “’I was chosen, of course.”

Lévesque moved into the long-term care facility just as the pandemic broke out in March 2020. Her family thanked the facility for the care she received.

She was inoculated at 11:25 a.m. on Dec. 14, the historic moment in Canada’s pandemic fight captured by local health officials, with those gathered to observe the moment breaking into applause once it was done.

Lévesque called getting vaccinated “very important” and “emotional.”

“I’m proud, very proud,” she said at the time, urging people to follow health rules and get vaccinated.

The moment was hailed as a big moment by Premier François Legault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the mass vaccination campaign got underway.


© 2021 The Canadian Press