GISÈLE LALONDE,
EDUCATOR, MAYOR AND COMMUNITY LEADER
 
Born in Eastview (now Vanier) on June 28, 1933, Gisèle Deschamps (wife of Gilles Lalonde) started out as a teacher. At the age of 33, she became a school trustee and continued in that role for 12 years, including two as the chair of the Ottawa Separate School Board. In 1974, Gisèle Lalonde took the helm of the new Centre Franco-Ontarien de Ressources Pédagogiques, chaired the Conseil des Affaires Franco-Ontariennes and agreed to stand for the Conservatives in the 1977 provincial election. She was not elected at that time, but a few years later was the first woman to be elected mayor of Vanier (1985-1991). She founded the Association Française des Municipalités de l’Ontario in 1989. From 1996 to 1997, she was a member of the government’s “Who Does What” committee. When then Premier Mike Harris announced school governance for and by Francophones in January 1997, Lalonde’s backstage contribution was passed overbecause the militant Franco-Ontarian was also chair of SOS Montfort at the time and therefore fighting the Harris government. Former president of the Association Française des Conseils Scolaires de l’Ontario, she was awarded the Prix Séraphin-Marion by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal in 2002. Since 1999, she has been the spokesperson for Opération Constitution. A public high school in Orleans has been named in her honour. She is a member of the Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique (1998), a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur (2002), and a member of the Order of Canada (2004) and the Order of Ontario (2006). She received an honourary doctorate from Laurentian University in 2005.