How family, friends honour Jaqueline McDermott's legacy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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How family, friends honour Jaqueline McDermott's legacy

A photo of Jaqueline McDermott who died in Oct. 2022 after battling mental health issues.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Nathalie St-Maurice

It has been a month since a young, vibrant woman died in an outdoor area near Merritt, leaving many shocked and saddened. 

Jaqueline McDermott, 22, was suffering from poor mental health when she took her own life, and her remains were found by search and rescue teams on Oct. 8.

“It is hard to believe a month has gone by already,” said mom Nathalie St-Maurice. “It feels like each day is getting worse not better now.”

McDermott was known in the tree-planting and skateboarding communities as a shining light who believed in love and human kindness. 

Nathalie is working to carry on her daughter’s legacy by continuing to bring awareness to mental health and connecting with other families suffering similar tragedies.

She has also helped to create bursaries in Jaqueline’s honour.

READ MORE: Jaqueline McDermott died by suicide: A message from her mother

“I thought I knew what mental health looked like and what to watch for, but maybe I didn’t really know or maybe Jaqui just didn’t let us see anything,” she said. “We need to talk about mental health differently. Changes need to be made.

“I don’t have the answers yet, but I have been communicating with numerous families who are going through the same tragedy of losing a child to suicide.”

A young Jaqueline McDermott (left) with mother Nathalie St-Maurice in Waterloo, Ontario.
A young Jaqueline McDermott (left) with mother Nathalie St-Maurice in Waterloo, Ontario.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Nathalie St-Maurice

While Nathalie is grieving — she said she is having a difficult time concentrating — she was able to help set up two bursaries in her daughter’s honour at two schools Jaqueline graduated from while growing up.

The bursaries will be awarded annually by the two school boards, and recipients will be chosen based on the things those closest to Jaqueline admired about her: her determination to succeed, her artistic talent, her activism and her kindness.

“The bursaries were created with the intention of creating something positive out of such a devastating loss,” said superintendent of education at Conseil scolaire Viamonde, Jaqui’s uncle and former principal Olivier St-Maurice.   

“We are honouring the beautiful and positive soul that Jaqui was and continues to be by recognizing students who share her passions for art, environment and social activism.

“Following the news of her passing we were bombarded with messages of support and condolences from staff and students who remembered her spirit so vividly from even when she was back in junior kindergarten. It was important to us to reach out to both boards and honour the bilingualism that was a part of her education and her family.”

The team established a GoFundMe to secure funding indefinitely for the bursaries.

Nathalie said she is grateful for the continuous outpouring of kind thoughts and words from those who knew Jaqueline and are grieving with her.

She encourages those who wish to make a donation in Jaqueline’s honour to donate to B.C. Search and Rescue, or a mental health organization of their choice. 

“Jaqui suffered in silence and we didn’t know until we read her journals after her death,” she said. “It is OK to ask for help. Please talk to your loved ones about mental health.”

Go here to donate to two school bursaries made in honour of Jacqueline McDermott. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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