Tribute to Gilles Lepage
August 13 2018
It is an honor for me to pay tribute to Gilles Lepage, whom everyone will agree has left us far too early, he who still had a lot to offer his family and his community.
It is not easy, in the short time that is granted, to pay a fitting homage to this man who has accomplished so much.
It is with shared feelings that I speak to you about this good living that was Gilles Lepage, a friend that I had the chance, I would say the privilege, to know and to rub shoulders for several years. I had anticipated, with the years to come, to have more meetings and conversations with Gilles Lepage. Chatting with Gilles was always interesting, entertaining. In fact, at the end of our conversations, we often felt that we had solved most of the major problems of the time, local, provincial, national and as international, except those of the Montreal Canadiens.
Gilles will surely miss his wife Gisele on whom he has always been able to count on his support and who has helped him for 49 years, to know the remarkable success he has known. With good reason, Gilles was very proud of his three children, and he was always there for them and they knew it. Gilles spoke infrequently about his children, but was very aware of their success. And what about the grandchildren he loved so much. They will appreciate their grandfather more when they fully realize the contribution to the Acadian community of Gilles Lepage. In my opinion, this is one of his most cherished legacies, a legacy that will undoubtedly serve as inspiration and motivation, as well as a model to follow.
I am convinced that Gilles Lepage would have been successful wherever he chose to settle. Fortunately, he chose Caraquet where he settled in 1969 after graduating from the Université de Moncton, an interesting choice for someone from Rimouski. In 1969, he began his work at the Fédération des Caisses populaires acadiennes. Over the years, he will climb the ladder to finish as President and CEO of the Federation, from 1994 to 2004, an institution, needless to say, the most important for the Acadian community. An employee told me recently that this morning Gilles was appreciated by all the employees of the Federation. Gilles learned a lot from his predecessor in the Federation; Marin Légère, Richard Savoie and Raymond Gionet. Gilles told me that at the beginning he had been to a meeting with Richard Savoie. The meeting was in English, and during the meeting Gilles spoke to be contradicted by Richard Savoie. His English was not strong at the time. Gilles immediately answered him: Richard, "you calle me"
It was during his term at the direction of the Federation that Gilles Lepage demonstrated a truly worthy support for the arts and culture, by initiating the Antonine Maillet-Acadie-Vie Literary Award, and by the acquisition by the Federation many works by Acadian artists.
It is by reading an article about Gilles Lepage in McLean's in 2003 that one realizes how much the Organization he chaired during 10 years has experienced impressive growth. Gilles must have been for something.
His work for the caisses populaires acadiennes did not prevent him from getting involved in his adoptive community. Gilles was a man of action. As a man of action he was, and as a baseball fan, he became the co-founder of Caraquet's minor baseball. How many young people have benefited from this initiative, not just his son Alain, who has become one of the best junior pitchers in NB.
Gilles Lepage has always been generous with his time. He did not hesitate to accept responsibilities in addition to those required by his work. Among these responsibilities he confided to me that one, among others, had particularly marked him. He was very pleased to have been part of the McKelvey Levesque Commission, a commission set up by the McKenna government at the time, which laid the groundwork for a modernization of health care in NB. This landmark experience has been a turning point in his career. From that moment, he felt able to carry out large files; an experience he told me, served him for the rest of his career.
It is not necessary to list all the achievements and distinctions of Gilles. A great co-operator became CEO of the Federation of Caisses populaires acadiennes, members of the Boards of Canada, co-chair of the McGuire Lepage Commission, a provincial commission on self-sufficiency and the presidency of the economic council of NB to name only those. All these achievements from his city of adoption, his adoption Acadie. At a minimum, it must be recognized that this is a significant contribution and involvement for the community and the province. Gilles was a man with multiple interests, as mentioned, he liked baseball, oh, combines discussions and analysis of parts of Expos. I would like to tell you how gilles was proud of France when she went to see a baseball game in Montreal with a friend. He told me this before the game and Gisele did not know it. He was an accomplice with France who absolutely wanted to go on television. She had prepared two signs, an RDS Rodger, Denis and something, the other she was only going out if necessary was: Mike Lansing will you marry me? I tell you that Gilles was eager to see Gisèle's reaction.
Gilles was the man with unique expressions. He told me, "Do not worry, we're going to give them the" coughing pig pass "an expression he has adapted and used for all kinds of occasions.
We will remember Gilles Lepage for his superior intelligence, his irreproachable integrity, his colorful character, his outspokenness, his unique expressions, as well as his sense of humor, an unpretentious man with a fixed eye on the future. Gilles was a leader who had an energy, an assurance, and that gave the impression that he knew where he was going, and in fact when Gilles Gilles knew it was, he knew exactly where he was going .
Gilles left us way too soon. He could have contributed more to his community and loved ones. He had, I am sure, still many projects that he could not achieve. Among other things, after his retirement from the Federation of Caisses, Gilles Lepage was not going to stop there. He continued to take an interest in economic activity, this time embarking on the wild blueberry crop where he made many encounters just as interesting to him as those he had experienced in his previous life. Gilles had this ability to converse with everyone, regardless of their status; business people, bankers, politicians, educators and growers. Some of the blueberry growers called him "the good man Lepage" and liked it a lot when Gilles stopped to talk to them and share his knowledge in his new field and his new passion. Without a doubt, he was very successful in this new field that he knew little before. His intelligence and interest in agriculture, a step back for him in some way (his father was a farmer), served him well. It is his son Alain who will continue the adventure of wild blueberries. The same Alain Gilles told me when he was a student and was working on a summer project, which he spent as a real government.
In closing, this man, who had a particularly fulfilling and successful career, made a remarkable contribution to the economic life of the Acadian community as well as to the rural community of NB. He was a model of involvement. community, leadership and loyalty to his community and friends. An inspiration for his family and his family.
As noted by one of my friends, for Gilles Lepage the sensational side of a decision was not his first concern. Instead, he was concerned with analyzing and knowing the impact this same decision would have on affected people, organizations or communities.
Thank you Gilles for what you have been for us all. Whether in the field of business, arts and culture or in the sports field, I think we can say without hesitation that you have been faithful to your motto that it is always better to be sides of the solutions to be on the side of the problems.
JA Réginald Léger