Mother angry over travel scandal after Make-A-Wish trip postponed for sick son
Published Monday, January 4, 2021 6:36PM MST Last Updated Tuesday, January 5, 2021 9:53AM MST
Braeden Lousier is shown in this undated handout photo. An Alberta mother whose terminally ill son had to postpone his trip to Hawaii through Make-A-Wish Foundation due to COVID-19 says the announcement of six UCP MLAs stepping down from their position after travelling to various international locations over the holidays isn't enough. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Lia Lousier
EDMONTON -- An Alberta mother says she's outraged by various politicians and staff who decided to travel abroad over the holidays, while a dream trip to Hawaii for her terminally ill son had to be postponed.
Lia Lousier of Airdrie, a bedroom community just north of Calgary, says nine-year-old Braeden is one of 100 people in the world to be diagnosed with a rare inherited connective tissue disease called Hajdu-Cheney syndrome.
"He has something going on with every major organ in his body," the mother of three boys explained Monday, while seated next to Braeden at Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary as the boy received a blood transfusion.
"He's been through heart surgeries. He's been through abdominal surgeries, many other minor surgeries. And on top of that, he's gone through meningitis. He's gone through sepsis. He's gone through strokes, seizures. You name it. This kid has fought it."
But after years of consistent hospital stays, he was beginning to show enough improvement for a trip to Hawaii -- "2020 was going to be our year," Lousier said.
The Make-A-wish-Foundation, which grants wishes of children who are battling a critical illness, was arranging the trip for the family in the fall.
Next to his love for riding elevators, it was Braeden's dream to be on a tropical beach, said his mother.
"When Braeden was small, I had taken him out to the West Coast to see family and he was non-verbal at that point and he wasn't even moving at that point. So I lay him on the sand and he laughed and he laughed. He was so at peace through that, so it was a no-brainer the wish to go to Hawaii."
But Lousier said when she saw the second-wave of COVID-19 coming, the family postponed the trip.
Days ago, it was revealed that Alberta's municipal affairs minister had travelled to Hawaii with her husband and daughter to continue a 17-year family Christmas tradition, despite recommendations against non-essential travel.
"Seeing Tracy Allard going to Hawaii was just that final, last break for me, just unbelievable anger that she felt she had the right to do that and then for her to excuse it," said Lousier.
Allard apologized and on Monday she resigned her cabinet position. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also stripped five other legislature members of their duties and asked his chief of staff to step down for their out-of-country vacations.
Lousier said she also wants to see the premier take responsibility.
"I 100 per cent support Kenny resigning," Lousier said.
"I think of the sheer number of people that I know that have elderly parents or aging parents, or have family out of province -- did they want to spend Christmas alone? They sure didn't."
Lousier said what was most shocking were videos and tweets posted on some of the politicians' social media accounts while they were away that gave the impression they were still in Alberta.
"It's deviant, dishonest behaviour. Are those the people that we want running our province? No, thank you."
In the meantime, the Make-A-Wish Foundation said it is working on an alternative wish for Braeden.
Foundation spokeswoman April Stallings said the charity has had to postpone 435 wishes for sick children because of the pandemic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 4, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship
In a Jan. 4 story about a boy's Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii being postponed, The Canadian Press erroneously reported that Alberta Children's Hospital is in Edmonton. In fact, it is in Calgary.
The story also erroneously reported that, in addition to Tracy Allard, the number of other members of the legislature stripped of their duties was four. In fact, it was five.