MONTREAL -- Family and colleagues were in mourning on Monday after the deaths of two Quebecers in the devastating earthquake that killed more than 350 people in Ecuador.
Jennifer Mawn and her son, Arthur Laflamme, died when the roof of their residence caved in as the 7.8-magnitude quake struck Saturday night.
"She was a very nice person, I'm really shocked," said Hugo Laprise, who worked with Mawn at a Montreal-area clinic she founded for children and teens.
"She was a very positive person, she was a very nice person, she was very honest, professional and was always trying to look for the best interest of everybody."
Laprise said the neuropsychiatrist kept tabs on the clinic despite being abroad and that she checked in several times a week.
Another colleague, Jacqueline LaBrie, said "it was very hard" to wake up at 5 a.m. to the news the earthquake had killed Mawn and her son, who was described in various media reports as being 12.
LaBrie, a family mediation worker who shared an office with Mawn, described the mother of two as "brilliant, full of energy, a very kind person."
They last spoke April 1 and LaBrie said Mawn was last in Quebec during the Christmas holidays.
Mawn's husband, Pascal Laflamme, and their daughter, Laurie-Ann, were slightly injured in the quake but were OK, according to a relative.
Guy Laflamme, Pascal's uncle, told Montreal radio station 98.5 FM his nephew and his family had moved to Ecuador not too long ago and that they liked travelling and working abroad.
He said Pascal had been chatting on FaceTime with his father Real, who was in Quebec, when the earthquake hit.
"Everything was going well and from one moment to the next, everything started to shake, to vibrate," Laflamme said. "Pascal shouted, 'get out! get out!' and all communication was cut off."
The uncle said Pascal managed to get in touch later to confirm the deaths.
Guy Laflamme said Pascal and his daughter "went to the hospital but there were a lot of people extremely injured so they went to stay with friends."
The family often blogged about their travels -- they lived on Reunion Island between 2007 and 2010, returned briefly to Canada and then headed to Mauritius before moving to Ecuador.
Pascal Laflamme noted in one post the family had moved last September to the coastal town of Bahia de Caraquez.
"We just love it here, weather is great and living by the Pacific Ocean is a real joy!," he wrote.
The earthquake, the strongest to hit Ecuador since 1979, levelled buildings and buckled highways along the Pacific Coast of the South American country.
It was centred about 170 kilometres northwest of the capital, Quito.
Global Affairs Canada has asked friends and relatives of those known to be travelling in Ecuador to contact its emergency response centre.
In Ottawa, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada will offer $1 million to "local authorities, very quickly."
"We will help the (Laflamme) family through our consular services," Bibeau said. "Our team is in contact with local authorities to evaluate the impact of the earthquake and the needs on the ground."
Judith Barrett, a Vancouver native who owns the Playa Escondida Ecological Refuge and Lodge about a 40-minute drive from the epicentre, has lived in Ecuador for 40 years and says she's never felt a quake that strong.
"It really shook up for about three minutes, but luckily we had no damage whatsoever," she said in an interview. "All the buildings held strong and the ocean was calm.
"What we noticed was a loud noise, first of all, that sounded like somebody running across the floor upstairs with big boots and then the ground started shaking. There were actually two -- one after another.
"The first one, I think, was just a few minutes and it was a different kind of movement. It was kind of up and down and then a zig-zag movement started and people ran out of their cabins. All we could do was stand there and wait for it to finish, but it was so extreme that it actually affected the equilibrium in our ears and made you feel a little nauseous."
-- With files from Jennifer Graham in Regina