MONTREAL -- A 52-year-old Quebec hospital orderly and mother of four was found dead on a beach in Cuba early this week, Global Affairs Canada has confirmed.

According to the family of Antoinette Traboulsi, she was found buried in a shallow grave after disappearing on Saturday.

In a statement provided to CTV News, Global Affairs confirmed Traboulsi's death and the fact that she was murdered, but said it couldn't provide many details.

"We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Antoinette Traboulsi, a Canadian citizen who has been murdered in Cuba," the department wrote.

Consular officials are helping Traboulsi's family and "are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information," but government can't provide more information due to the Privacy Act, it said. 

A cousin of Traboulsi's, however, told CTV News that the victim's friend reported her missing on Saturday and that the family later learned Cuban authorities found a body on a beach. 

The mother of four children travelled to Cuba Nov. 13 for a two-week holiday and went to the beach the next day, said the cousin, Sami Soussa.

Soussa said authorities told the family she was found buried a metre in the sand with bite marks on her chest and her face badly beaten. 

“They confirmed that it was the body of my cousin at the morgue in Cuba, and apparently she’s been [murdered] and buried in the sand on Varadero beach,” said Soussa.

Soussa said Traboulsi was an orderly at Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal -- he had previously believed she was a nurse, but corrected that information later on Wednesday -- and he said she visited Cuba once or twice a year. Family said she considered the island nation a second home.

“She’s full of life, she likes music, she likes to have fun in her life, she really liked the lifestyle there," said Soussa.

"She’s been going to Cuba once or twice a year for several years. She even learned how to perfectly speak Spanish.”

This visit, he said, was meant to be a moment of respite after a very difficult few months working on the front lines of the pandemic.

Soussa has asked to be the person to retrieve his cousin's body. He said he can't stop wondering how his cousin's life ended.

“I want to know what happened," said Soussa.

"I want to know how a 52-year-old woman was killed, buried one metre deep in the sand, on a public beach," he said.

"There’s a resort on the same beach. What happened? Do we have a suspect? I want someone to pay."


A previous version of this story reported that, according to Traboulsi's family, she was a nurse and that she had three children. In fact, she was a hospital orderly and she had four children. CTV regrets the error.