Gino LeBlanc awarded Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes académiques

Gino LeBlanc, SFU's Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs' Director and Nicolas Baudouin, Consul General of France in Vancouver

On November 1, Gino LeBlanc, Director of Simon Fraser University’s Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs, was named Knight (Chevalier) of the Ordre des Palmes académiques françaises (Order of the French Academic Palms) in recognition of his exceptional commitment to the country’s Francophone and Acadian communities. The French Republic awards this distinction to those who make a significant contribution to education and the promotion of French culture and language.

Nicolas Baudouin, Consul General of France in Vancouver, who presented the award, notes that “through this decoration, France recognizes the remarkable contribution of Mr. Gino LeBlanc to the development of an open, diverse and inclusive Francophonie, thanks in particular to the dynamic university partnerships developed with France.”  He adds that “this decoration is also a way of saluting this active member of the educational community for his commitment to shaping young people with an openness to the world and to others. Thanks to their talents and skills, these students are an essential asset for British Columbia.”

Arriving in Vancouver in 2017, Mr. LeBlanc already had more than twenty years’ experience in leadership roles in Acadia, his native region, at the Atlantic and national levels. Twice elected president of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada between 1997 and 2000, he spearheaded two major national projects that still have an impact on communities across the country today. The first, Projet Dialogue, was aimed at bringing indigenous, immigrant francophone and francophile communities closer to the francophone community, which led to the creation of the Dialogue Foundation and the development of the French-speaking immigration sector. The second project, on access to French-language health services, is now known as the Consortium national de santé en français (CNFS).

Throughout his career as a university administrator and researcher in the field of language policy, Mr. LeBlanc has been called upon by New Brunswick premiers, of all political parties, to analyze and propose public policies related to challenges specific to Francophone communities. In 2009, he chaired the Commission sur l’école francophone and tabled a report that led to the Politique d’aménagement linguistique et culturelle (PALC) in New Brunswick. In 2016, he was appointed by the New Brunswick government as Francophone Chair of the Commission on the province’s 10-year education plan.

Director of the Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University since 2017, Mr. LeBlanc brings to Western Canada his passion and drive for the vitality of Francophone communities. He quickly developed and strengthened numerous collaborations between the university and members and organizations of British Columbia’s Francophone community around the access and the continuum of French-language education from early childhood through to higher education. Guided by what he calls “le projet de société de vivre en français” (the societal project of living in French), he is ardently dedicated to the consolidation and development of initiatives around the recruitment, training and retention of French teachers, student mobility programs at the national and international level, particularly with France, as well as, activity programming that enables the entire university community to enjoy authentic experiences in French.

For Mr. LeBlanc, “the university is a place of knowledge and research that plays an essential role in the development and vitality of Canada’s Francophone and Acadian communities”. He adds, “Receiving the Ordre des Palmes académiques is an award that is all the more significant for me, as it honours remarkable contributions within academia.”

Kris Magnusson, Acting Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Learning and Teaching at SFU believes this recognition is well deserved.

“On behalf of the entire SFU Learning and Teaching community, I extend our warmest congratulations to Gino LeBlanc on being honoured with the Ordre des Palmes académiques. Language is the principal method of human communication. It is the fundamental bridge between people; the way we are understood by others, and the way that we achieve understanding of others. It is a complex interaction of person and culture and perhaps nothing represents a culture as profoundly as language. This esteemed recognition by the Government of France is a testament to Mr. LeBlanc’s dedication to fostering French language and culture, and his unwavering commitment to education. His efforts have not only enriched the academic experience of SFU students but have helped strengthen the Francophone community in BC and beyond. Toutes nos félicitations, Gino, for this well-deserved honour.”

Gino LeBlanc received the award in front of some 40 colleagues and friends at an evening organized in collaboration with the Baxter and Alma Ricard Foundation, of which Mr. LeBlanc is a former Fellow. Elia Eliev, Executive Director of the Foundation, and Emma Dreher, a Fellow and graduate of Simon Fraser University’s French Cohort Program in Public and International Affairs, also testified to Mr. LeBlanc’s impact on the personal, academic and professional lives of many students across the country.

The Ordre des Palmes académiques françaises is one of the oldest civilian orders of the French Republic. Created in 1808 by an imperial decree of Napoleon Bonaparte, it was once a decoration to honour eminent members of the University of Paris. 

Today, the national order is bestowed on distinguished members (national and foreign) of the educational community who have rendered valuable service to universities, education and science while actively promoting French education.

For more information, contact:

Anne Marie Gagné
Manager Communications and Marketing
Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs, SFU