Friday, July 3, 2009

Roméo Leblanc's state funeral draws thousands

Former governor general Roméo LeBlanc was remembered during his state funeral Friday in Memramcook, N.B., as a devoted journalist and politician who worked to improve the lot of the less fortunate.

Phil Fontaine, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, offered a prayer at the start around 10 a.m. AT of the traditional Catholic funeral service at Saint-Thomas of Memramcook Church. Thousands of dignitaries and members of the public gathered at the tiny farming village's church where LeBlanc was baptized.

'My father firmly believed that Canada's greatest and most abundant resource lay not under the sole of our feet nor in or under the sea, but in the hearts and the minds of Canadians.'—MP Dominic LeBlanc

LeBlanc was governor general from 1995 to 1999. Before that, he was a journalist with Radio-Canada, press secretary to former prime ministers Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, a Liberal cabinet minister and a senator.

Canada's first Acadian governor general was also remembered by his longtime friend and Acadian historian, Naomi Griffiths.

LeBlanc and Griffiths were introduced in 1954, and they often met while they were students in Paris.

Griffiths said that when LeBlanc entered public life, he never gave up the belief that politics matter in the lives of Canadians.

"As an Acadian, he was convinced that Canadian institutions and values allowed individuals to preserve differing and distinctive cultural heritages as part of a vibrant and united nation," Griffiths said.

"He was someone willing to accept that differences of culture, of religious belief can be accommodated within one society that justice and equality are goals worth striving for."

LeBlanc, the first Acadian appointed as governor general, died at his home in Grande Digue, N.B., on June 23 after a lengthy illness. He was 81.
(from CBC)

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