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Woman killed by bear on the job had busy life, was avid photographer: family

Lorna Weafer is shown in an undated handout photo. Weafer was attacked by a black bear on Wednesday while working at Suncor's base camp north of Fort McMurray. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho

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Lorna Weafer is shown in an undated handout photo. Weafer was attacked by a black bear on Wednesday while working at Suncor's base camp north of Fort McMurray. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho

FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - The family of a woman killed by a bear on the job at an Alberta oilsands site says instead of focusing on her death, they want to share details about her life and spirit.

Lorna Weafer, who was 36, was attacked by a black bear on Wednesday while working at Suncor's base camp north of Fort McMurray.

Others on the jobsite tried to scare off the bear, to no avail.

In a statement released Friday, the family said Weafer was born in Ireland and immigrated to Canada with her family as a child and moved to Fort McMurray in 1981.

The statement says she had been working with Suncor as an instrumentation technician since October and was well-liked and had many friends at the company.

They added she was an avid photographer and very artistic.

The family also thanked the co-workers who tried to help Weafer, saying they know they are grieving as well.

"Lorna's warmth and compassion knew no bounds. She had a busy full life, loved her family and her dog. She absolutely adored children and had volunteered as a Big Sister.

"She had been talking about going back to study and become a psychologist because she loved helping people — she'd have helped anyone. And she often did."

The family says Weafer lost her beloved dog two weeks ago.

"Abby had been her pal for 15 years."

The family asked for privacy while they grieve.

RCMP later killed an adult black bear. Tests have confirmed it was the same animal that killed Weafer, Brendan Cox, spokesman for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General Department, said late Friday afternoon.

"The attack was predatory. It doesn't appear that the bear was provoked by humans. Our investigation also yielded no evidence suggesting that there were garbage or other attractants at the site that might have attracted the bear," Cox said.

"Anyone in bear country we'd really encourage them to carry bear spray at all times when they're outdoors and to know how to use it. It's a highly effective tool in any bear encounter situation."

Suncor said the employees were working in a busy industrial area and were not carrying bear spray.

An Alberta government document on bears says the animals are attracted to the smell of human-produced garbage and other waste, including petroleum products.

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