Friends of Athena Gervais call for complete ban on sugary, high-alcohol drinks

Athena Gervais's friends said they have launched a petition that has been signed by 15,000 people so far, asking for a complete ban on high-alcohol beverages.

Funeral service for Laval high school student held in hometown Saturday

The funeral ceremony for Athena Gervais was held on Saturday in Saint-Félicien, Que. Friends and families released balloons into the sky after the private ceremony. (Radio-Canada)

Athena Gervais's friends boarded a bus together to make the almost six-hour trip from Laval to her hometown, Saint-Félicien, to attend her funeral and say goodbye.

Standing close together, placing their hands on one another for support, the group described her as "a ball of energy" — someone they could confide in without hesitation.

Alexandre Boulanger said Gervais wasn't someone who clamoured for attention, but was always there to make others feel better.

"It's destroying all of us that she's not here anymore, but she would want us to smile," he said.

Audrey Beauchesne said Gervais was one of her best friends, one who would never let you get down on yourself.

"She never wanted us to cry, she'd say 'Let's brush it off and get out of here,'" she said.

'Disgusted' by high-alcohol drinks 

Gervais was found in a stream near her school on March 1, three days after she went missing.

Police are awaiting a toxicology report to determine if she had been drinking. Investigators have said alcohol may have been a factor.

Athena Gervais's close friends made the trip from Laval, Que. to attend her funeral on Saturday, in Saint-Félicien, in the Saguenay region. (Priscilla Plamondon Lalancette/Radio-Canada)
Couche-Tard has already announced it will no longer sell FCKD UP up cans, and the Quebec company that manufactures the product said last week it was halting production.

The Geloso group also said it wants the Quebec government to ban the sale of beverages containing more than 10.5% alcohol. 

But Gervais's friends said they are angry and want this type of drink banned from the market altogether.

Alexandre Rousseau said he started crying when he walked into a convenience store and saw a can of FCKD UP, just steps away from the funeral parlour.

"I wanted to buy it just to be able to throw it as far as I could," he said.​

Petition gets 7,000 signatures

Audrey Beauchesne said girls her age can be tempted to drink these types of drinks, even if they aren't interested in beer.

"This is fruit juice mixed with alcohol," she said, adding that the taste entices young people to go back for more.

A member of Gervais's  family has launched a petition that has been signed by 7,000 people so far, asking to limit alcohol content of these types of alcoholic beverages to 6.5%.
Gervais's friend Alexandre Boulanger said he is now disgusted by the sight of high-alcohol beverages found in convenience stores. (Radio-Canada)

Alexandre Boulanger said they have seen some backlash from people saying the drinks are fine if they are consumed in moderation.

"If we take the chance to save at least one life, it will have been worth it," he said.

He said he hopes his friend's death prompts people of all ages to take a closer look at their alcohol consumption habits.

"It's better to party with moderation and live a long life, to have the chance to continue to party," he said. 

With files from Radio-Canada's Priscilla Plamondon Lalancette