Gisèle Lalonde

gisele-lalonde.jpgPresident of the Montfort Hospital Foundation from 1994 to 1995.
President of the SOS Montfort Movement from 1997 to 2002.
Member of the Montfort Hospital foundation Board of Trustees (early 2000s).

Born in Eastview (Vanier), Ontario on June 28, 1933, Gisèle Lalonde (née Deschamps) attended École Montfort, the Pensionnat Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes boarding school and École secondaire Eastview High School.

As federal president of Young Christian Workers (Jeunesse ouvrière catholique) before the age of 20, and later a graduate of the Ottawa Normal School of the University of Ottawa in 1951, she pursued a career in teaching in the 1950s and 1960s, alternately at the Montfort, Saint-Paul, Garneau and Saint-Gabriel schools. She served for several years as president of the Cadieux School parent-teacher association.

Ms. Lalonde was school commissioner for twelve years, and became vice-chair (1972, 1973 and 1975) and later chair of the Ottawa Catholic Separate School Board in 1974 and 1976. She was vice-president (1976-1977) and president (1978-1979) of the Association française des conseils scolaires de l’Ontario (association of French-language school boards of Ontario) and Chair (1976-1977) of the Ontario School Trustees’ Council. She was a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Education Association, the Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française (Canadian French-language education association) and the Société de coopération nord-sud en éducation (north-south cooperation in education society).

As co-founder and then Executive Director of the Centre franco-ontarien de ressources pédagogiques (franco-ontarian educational resource centre) from 1974 to 1984, she was Executive Director of the Association française des conseils scolaires (French-language school boards association) from 1980 to 1981. She was also a member of the founding committee and Board of Governors of the Collège catholique Samuel-Genest (1978-1979).

In 1977 Ms. Lalonde stood as Conservative Party candidate in the provincial elections. As chair of the Conseil des affaires franco-ontariennes/Council of Franco-Ontarian Affairs (1984-1985), it was under her leadership that the first symposium was held in 1985 for Francophone women. Ms. Lalonde was Mayor of the City of Vanier from 1985 to 1991 and a member of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton (RMOC) Council. Founder of the Association française des municipalités de l’Ontario (AFMO, French-language Ontario municipalities’ association) in 1988 and president from 1989 to 1991, it was in this capacity that she served as a member of the Minister of Municipal Affairs’ Advisory Council concerning professional development for elected officials and municipal managers. A member of the provincial “Who does What” Commission (1996-1997), she led the SOS Montfort movement from 1997 to 2002 in a battle to save Hôpital Montfort from the threat of closure by the provincial government.

In 1999 she became co-chair and later chair of the Opération Constitution movement designed to enshrine the rights of Franco-Ontarians in the Canadian Constitution.

In 2003 the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CEPEO) paid her tribute by naming a high school in the Orléans area of Ottawa after her.

Ms. Lalonde was successively a representative of St. Paul University on the Board of Governors of the University of Ottawa (1983-1984), a member of the board of directors of the Royal Ottawa Hospital, Hôpital Montfort, the Montfort Hospital Foundation, La Cité collégiale and the Fondation de La Cité collégiale, of which she was founding chairperson.

A founding member of the pastoral council of the Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes parish, she has been treasurer and regent of the Cercle Ste-Thérèse-de-Lisieux (Vanier) of the Daughters of Isabella since 1990. Honorary chair of the recruitment campaign launched by the Fédération des aînés et des retraités franco-ontariens (FAFO, a federation of Franco-Ontarian seniors and retirees), co-chair of a Montfort funding campaign, she was a member of a citizens’ committee working to increase the number of organ donations (2003). In the 2000s she served as Board chair for the Scouts Canada Association Trois-rives district (Eastern Ontario zone) for almost ten years.

Gisèle Lalonde has received a host of awards and decorations: Conseil de la vie française en Amérique 50th medal (1987), Prix Boréal given by the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (2000), Person of the Year award from La Presse, courage, humanism and achievement category (2002), Delphis-Brochu medal given by the Association des médecins de langue française du Canada (2002) and the Séraphin-Marion award of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal (2002).

Ms. Lalonde is a member of various associations: a Knight of La Pléiade, the Assemblée internationale des parlementaires de langue française, Canadian section (1997), Member of the Ordre des francophones d’Amérique (1998), Dame Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (1998), Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honour (2002), Member of the Order of Canada (2004) and Member of the Order of Ontario (2006).

She has received honorary doctoral degrees from St. Paul University (2000) and Laurentian University (2005), and a certificate from La Cité collégiale and Collège Boréal.

Wife of Gilles Lalonde, she has three children.