Paul Gérin-Lajoie Dead at the Age of 98

Montreal, 25 June 2018 – It is with great sadness and deepest emotion that the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie informs you that its Founder has passed away. Mr. Paul Gérin-Lajoie, who at 98 was the last surviving member of the group of Quebec politicians who had launched the Quiet Revolution, died this morning surrounded by his loved ones. The Honourable Philippe Couillard, Premier of the province of Quebec, has announced that a state funeral will be held to honour his memory.

Paul Gerin Lajoie, prix Georges Emile Lapalme
Paul Gerin Lajoie, prix Georges Emile Lapalme

The Passing of a Great Man

A lawyer by training, Paul Gérin-Lajoie is remembered by many for his determination in setting up Quebec’s first Ministry of Education in 1964. As the province’s first Minister of Education, he took a leading role in the major overhaul of Quebec’s educational system. Among other accomplishments, he oversaw the creation of the province wide network of CEGEPs and Univerités du Québec, as well as putting in place a law providing for compulsory education up to the age of 16 for all children.

He also originated the « Gérin-Lajoie Doctrine » which stipulates that provinces can sign agreements with other countries in areas that fall under provincial jurisdiction in the Canadian Constitution. This doctrine has now spread to several countries made up of federated states. In 1969 he left politics to become President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). It is during his tenure in that position that development aid for Africa was substantially increased.

When Mr. Gérin-Lajoie left CIDA in 1977, his grateful staff presented him with a non-governmental organization (NGO) charter which led to the launch of the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie. As a result, Paul Gérin-Lajoie took to the road, swapping Quebec roadways for African and Haitian trails, where he tirelessly sought to put into practice his long held and heartfelt credo of « Education for All ».  La Dictée P.G.L. is undoubtedly recognized by many Canadians as one of the most effective projects aiming to raise awareness among primary school students of international realities. It reaches over half a million people annually.

For the past forty years, the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie has pursued its mission of contributing to the basic education of children, as well as to the literacy and vocational training of young people and women in developing countries, most notably in West Africa and Haiti. In Canada the Fondation conducts various activities aimed at raising the Canadian public’s awareness of international cooperation issue. In Mali, these activities consist of dozens of basic education, vocational training and women’s entrepreneurship projects, and of three self-managed school canteens that provide healthy meals to 1,000 children. In Haiti, a successful maternal and child health project has been implemented, along with the annual sponsorship of several hundred children.

Before withdrawing from the day to day management of the Fondation, Mr. Gérin-Lajoie had carefully put in place all the necessary safeguards to ensure that these important initiatives would continue as his lasting legacy. He leaves behind a dynamic and pluralistically representative board of directors dedicated to ensuring that the Founder’s arrangements and intentions are faithfully applied and acted on. Thanks to the careful and efficient management of fifteen professional staff at its Montreal office who are guided by a strategic plan based on Paul Gérin-Lajoie’s original vision, and on the strength of the Fondation’s positive financial position, some two hundred trained employees and volunteers overseas can continue to provide quality education, and to work on a daily basis to improve the living conditions of thousands of people in West African and Haitian communities.

The loss of our Founding President has saddened and deeply moved all of us and we wish to convey our entire team’s most sincere condolence and sympathy to his family and friends. You may all rest assured that the inspiration of his exemplary life will remain with us and that it will motivate each and every one of us to continue Paul Gérin-Lajoie’s important lifework and strengthen our will to keep alive his essential legacy.

Thank you, Sir.

Source: Matthieu Delaunay
Communications Agent
(514) 288-3888, extension 235


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