SNAP Tribute Page


In Loving Memory of

Claudette G. Gagnon

Claudette G. Gagnon

19 January, 1940 -- 24 August, 2007

In our movement to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded, we in SNAP are grateful for the contributions anyone makes in any way at any time.

But we have a special place in our hearts for those who stepped up in the early days, before the Boston Globe ground breaking expose and the public awareness it spawned. And we have a special place in our hearts for those non-survivors -the friends and family of victims- who not only supported us individually but who went beyond and publicly advocated for and helped other survivors too.

Claudette Gagnon was one such pioneer. She believed and backed her son David. In 1992, she started, with Marcel Gagnon, our first chapter in New England. She was the first parent anywhere to take this initiative and accept this burden.

Within the first year of the chapter's existance, over 30 members from across Maine and parts of New Hampshire gathered monthly to support eachother and know that they were not alone. She lobbied a local hospital to provide meeting space for minimal charge. She enlisted a Social Worker to serve as support person and group facilitator for the monthly meetings.

As early as 1991, she began to publicly advocate for survivors through the media to draw attention to this issue and the church's cover-up. She was not afraid to take on the Diocese of Portland, Maine, and on numerous occasions, publicly demanded the removal of Michael Doucette from ministry. She demanded that the diocese provide funding for counselling for survivors and for their family members. She often would accompany survivors when they chose to confront the priest that abused them, sometimes in public forums. On two separate occasions, while she stood in solidarity with survivors as they publicly confronted the abusers, she was threatened with arrest for public mischief and disturbing the peace.

In the 1990s, even some law-enforcement were not yet on our side. While many activists occasionally face the threat of arrest, in Claudette's case, this threat was significant indeed as she fought her debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis which left her physically fragile and with significant mobility challenges. Nonetheless, she displayed the courage of a Titan and spoke the truth in her unique prophetic voice. She spent hours supporting survivors by phone and in person and continued to advocate for survivors and their families for years after her retirement from active participation in SNAP.

Her inspiring legacy of support and advocacy for survivors continued in her son's work as he became the first National Coordinator for SNAP-Canada. He later became the National Coordinator for the Canadian Healing Circle which has successfully pushed the Canadian Gouvernement to hold a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the issue of human rights abuse by church officials through the much detested Residential School system.

Her spirit also continues in the inspiring leadership seen by the brave women and men who have continued the work of SNAP in Maine and that of committed advocates for the victims of Maine's priests and Diocese, namely Cindy, Harvey, Marie and Paul. In 2004, both Claudette and Marcel were recognized by Voice of the Faithful of York County, Maine for their significant ground-breaking work in advocating for survivors in a time when the social climate exacted high personal costs for standing up for a then very unpopular issue.

We will always remember her with fondness, gratitude and respect.
May her memory inspire others to find within themselves the strength to
stand tall and speak loudly with their own voice of justice and

We are NOT ALONE !

David-Roger Gagnon David and Judith Ducasse
United Church of Canada
Ron and Lorina Dugre Anonymous Donors Members of the Gagnon Family