“I can’t believe he lied to me”: the mother of the Chapais arsonist breaks the silence

CHIBOUGAMAU | A difficult childhood and a marked interest in conspiracy theories, this could explain why Brian Paré lit 14 fires which forced the evacuation of hundreds of citizens of Nord-du-Québec last summer.

• Read also: Fires started by Brian Paré: the citizens of Chapais were afraid of losing everything

• Read also: Brian Paré affair: the underside of an unprecedented incendiary madness

In her kitchen in Chibougamau, Gabrielle Veilleux Boutet, the mother of one of the worst arsonists in Quebec history, was still in shock in the days following her son’s decision to plead guilty to 13 charges of arson and another of arson with contempt for human life, even though he had sworn to her that he was innocent.

“It is extremely difficult to accept. It seems like I don’t realize it yet. Brian had already had his share of problems, but I never thought he could do this,” she confided in an interview with The newspaper.

The mother of arsonist Brian Paré, Gabrielle Veilleux Boutet, is worried about the future of her son, the day he leaves prison. She believes that many people still hold grudges against her for putting the lives of hundreds of people in danger through her actions.

PHOTO Vincent Desbiens

Among the fires started by Paré, that of Lake Cavan, lit on May 31, caused no less than 872 hectares of damage, in addition to forcing almost half of the population of Chapais to leave their homes.

With a trembling voice, his mother recalled the painful events of recent months, which ended with her son’s guilty plea at the Chibougamau courthouse on January 15.

“I had a heart attack in January 2023 and I was thinking of having one again when my son was arrested in September. He told me he didn’t do those things. He told me “Mom, I have never set fire to anything”. Then he told the police the opposite. I can’t believe he lied to me.”

“There is always a reason”

According to his mother, Brian Paré has suffered from serious anxiety problems since childhood. She is convinced that the context of domestic violence in which he was born and the “difficult childhood” that followed have something to do with the numerous legal troubles he has experienced for more than 15 years.

Brian Paré's mother, Gabrielle Veilleux Boutet, told the Journal that her son suffers from paranoia and serious anxiety problems since he experienced a difficult childhood, in a context of domestic violence.

Brian Paré’s mother and her husband helped the 38-year-old man buy this house in 2021. He experienced several legal setbacks linked to neighbor disputes.

Vincent Desbiens

“I don’t want to excuse his actions, not at all. It’s very, very serious and it pains me enormously. On the other hand, I find it important to tell people that it didn’t happen by chance. There is always a reason,” argues Mme Veilleux.

She says that her son only spent school holidays and summers in Chibougamau and that he attended his father’s school in Saint-Hyacinthe until he came of age.

“When he came here, he was good and it showed. Brian is a shy and lonely boy who really loves wood. He was with my husband all the time,” she maintains.

Fan of conspiracy theories

During a seven-hour interrogation with the Sûreté du Québec following his arrest on September 7, Brian Paré claimed that the main motivation for his crimes was to “do tests to find out if the forest was really dry or No”.

“With COVID, it seems like he started seeing conspiracies everywhere,” admits his mother. We tried to reason with him I don’t know how many times. To explain to him that the government is not trying to control us, that there is no new world order. But he has a very hard head. It got worse with the forest fires, he was convinced that things were being hidden from us.”

Brian Paré's mother, Gabrielle Veilleux Boutet, told the Journal that her son suffers from paranoia and serious anxiety problems since he experienced a difficult childhood, in a context of domestic violence.

A few days before starting his incendiary madness, Brian Paré shared messages relating numerous conspiracy theories on social networks.

Screenshot taken from Brian Paré’s Facebook

His mother had long perceived that he was paranoid and distrustful of others, “but it had been getting worse and worse” for some time, she says.

A colleague of the arsonist at Entretien industrial Éco, a subcontractor of the Barrette-Chapais sawmill, Éric Asselin, agrees. He describes Paré as a “very special” man and he had seen changes in his behavior.

What they said:

“In the spring, he was always looking at the maps to see how the fires were progressing and that stressed him out a lot. He was talking nonsense. He thought that the government didn’t want us to go into the forest because it was setting fires to open lithium mines. He showed us videos and talked about them every lunchtime.”

– Éric Asselin, colleague of Brian Paré at Entretien industrial Éco

“He was in the woods all the time. That’s where he was good. There wasn’t much we could have done to avoid this.”

– Éric Corbin, owner of Entretien industrial Éco

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