Cicilia Laurent, who moved to Canada after Haitian earthquake, had a document stating she was born Jan. 31, 1896.
A Haitian-born woman from Quebec touted as the oldest-living person at 120 years old passed away on Monday, her family said.
Cicilia Laurent celebrated her final birthday at the offices of the Haitian consulate in Montreal on Jan. 31, 2016 in front of three large cakes shaped into the numbers 1, 2 and 0.
“It was really her age. It was a natural death,” said Marie-Lorna Pierre, a family member who was Laurent’s primary caregiver.
“We didn’t know when it would happen, but she ate less, she was more tired and she laughed less often. She wasn’t sick to the point that we knew it was occurring, but we knew that it would happen because she was different. She didn’t have as much energy.”
Laurent came to Canada after the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. A government document known as a late declaration of birth that was issued in 2005 stated that Laurent was born in the town of Pestel on Jan. 31, 1896.
While the document was sufficient for the Canadian government to allow Laurent to immigrate to Quebec — and the basis upon which congratulatory birthday letters were issued by Queen Elizabeth II, former prime minister Stephen Harper and ex-Quebec premier Jean Charest — it did not meet the standards of Guinness World Records, chronicler of incredible human feats.
In order to be recognized as a certified supercentenarian — that is, someone who has exceeded the age of 110 — solid proof such as an original birth certificate or church records must be found and verified.
Robert Young, a Guinness consultant and an expert on supercentenarians with the Gerontology Research Group, told the Star in January that he was aware of Laurent’s case, but it wasn’t supported by independent records.
“You have someone claiming to be the second-oldest person of all times — basically as old as Moses — and we can’t simply give a person like that the benefit of the doubt when there’s no proof of birth and the birth record was issued only 10 years ago,” he explained.
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SOURCE: Metro News / Torstar News Service