Ottawa

Family in shock after son charged with killing mother

Abigail Ootoova's family and a former partner described the Inuk artist's relationship with her son Jed as loving, but tumultuous.

Jed Ootoova had moved in with his mother to get treatment for schizophrenia

Jed Ootoova, left, lived with his mother Abigail Ootoova, centre. Former boyfriend, Denis Chavarie, right, lived with the two of them for four and a half years. Jed Ootoova has been charged with second-degree murder in his mother's death.

Abigail Ootoova's family and a former partner described the Inuk artist's relationship with her son Jed as loving, but tumultuous.

Jed Ootoova, 29, has been charged with second-degree murder in his mother's killing.

Ottawa police said they found a 54-year-old woman in medical distress inside a home on Jolliet Avenue in Vanier on Saturday evening. She would later be pronounced dead in hospital.

Daniel Ootova found out about the arrest of his younger brother and his mother's death when he was called to his grandmother's house in Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

"I was just in shock," said Daniel Ootoova, 36.

Ootoova said his younger brother was a good athlete and outgoing until he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

He said his brother was sent to live with his mother in 2011 after his family in Pond Inlet struggled with his care.

Mother and son battled addiction, mental illness

Daniel says his younger brother could get violent and start throwing things if he was off his medication; his grandmother thought that he would get better medical treatment in an urban centre.

Denis Chavarie, Abigail's Ootoova's former boyfriend, says Ootoova loved her son Jed very much.

"She was sweet and funny, but also shy — a beautiful soul," said Chavarie from his home near Timmins, Ont.

"Jed loved his mom very much and she loved him."

Chavarie says he and Ootoova first met in 2010 when he saw her selling her stencil and watercolour artwork to businesses in the Byward Market.

Her work often depicted her childhood memories such as dog sledding or tobogganing.

In 2011 the couple moved in together and rented an apartment in Vanier.

Shortly after, her son moved to Ottawa and lived with the couple for four years.

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      'A roller coaster'

      Chavarie says Abigail Ootoova struggled with alcohol addiction and that she and her son frequently fought.

      "It just like a roller coaster. Their relationship was up and down," he said.

      "[Jed] was a lot happier when his mom tried to stay sober. He became miserable when she drank, and when she drinks she becomes totally different."

      Chavarie says he saw Jed struggle with delusions, but did not see him get aggressive. But he said Ootoova could be violent when drinking and had in the past hit Chavarie.

      Chavarie and Ootoova broke up in 2015, shortly after he moved to Northern Ontario. He hadn't spoken to her in nearly four years.

      Daniel Ootoova says his mother has experienced a lot of trauma in her life. 

      Abigail Ootoova was separated from her parents for four years when they were diagnosed with tuberculosis and taken south for treatment.

      Two of her older siblings were also taken to residential schools.

      Concerned about brother

      Ootoova said he takes some comfort that his mother won't experience any more pain. Now he's focused on his younger brother's welfare.

      Both Chavarie and Daniel Ootoova say they are worried about Jed Ootoova's ability to cope in jail. They believe he needs to be hospitalized, not incarcerated.

      Daniel Ootoova said he knows there are many other families coping with mental illness and addiction. He wants them to learn from his own family's tragedy.

      "Something like this happens everywhere," he said.

      "The best thing is to talk to someone and get some help instead of hiding away."

      Abigail Ootoova is survived by her mother, three sons and two daughters.