• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion Parc-de-la-paix to be renamed for former provincial education minister


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

A resolution was passed at the April 18 Vaudreuil-Dorion council meeting to rename Parc-de-la-paix on St. Charles Avenue to Parc Paul Gérin-Lajoie as a tribute to the former Vaudreuil-Soulanges Liberal MNA and Quebec’s first education minister.

Parc-de-la-paix on St. Charles Avenue will be renamed Parc Paul Gérin-Lajoie at an upcoming ceremony to honour and pay tribute to the former Vaudreuil-Soulanges Liberal Member of the National Assembly (MNA) and Dorion resident, announced Mayor Guy Pilon at the Monday evening council meeting, April 18.

A resolution to proceed with the name change was unanimously adopted during the council session. Pilon said the decision to rename the park was made because Gérin-Lajoie, who is now 96, was appointed Quebec’s first Minister of Education in 1964, a position he held for just over two years, and for the significant improvements he has made to provide a basic education to the less fortunate around the world.

Among the many important contributions he made during his time as education minister, Gérin-Lajoie is credited for revamping the province’s English and French high schools and establishing the comprehensive high school system (École secondaire polyvalente) during Quebec’s tumultuous ‘Quiet Revolution’ period in the 1960s, said Pilon.

“It’s an honour for the city to pay tribute to Gérin-Lajoie,” said Pilon who doesn’t foresee any opposition to the change. “Around the year 2000 we had a lot of projects that were called ‘de-la-paix’. I don’t think anyone will object to the new name,” said Pilon.

“The fact is with the École secondaire de la Cité-des-Jeunes just in front of the park that is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we thought it would be a great idea to have a big celebration with all the former students and rename the park at the same time. The earth that came from the construction of the school was used to help build up a part of the park along the shore.” Pilon added.

Parc-de-la-paix was created with landfill that came from early infrastructure work that included laying sewers and water pipes as the city underwent a major construction and development phase in the 1960s. The park, which is adjacent to Vaudreuil Bay, is a popular recreational spot in the summer, especially among young skateboarders who are regularly at the skate park.

Gérin-Lajoie earned an honourary doctorate in 1966 from Sir George Williams University, which is now part of Concordia University. Other accolades include being made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1979, becoming an Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 1987 and being promoted to Grand Officer in 1998. In 2002, the government of France knighted Gérin-Lajoie into the Order of the Legion of Honour.

He established the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation in 1977, a philanthropic organization which provides access to education to children living in the world’s poorest nations. The organization also brings the issue to the attention of primary school children across Canada to raise awareness about the plight of other children. The renaming ceremony will take place at Parc-de-la-paix on Saturday, May 28.

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