Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Roméo LeBlanc, 1927-2009

The Right Honourable Roméo-Adrien LeBlanc, former Governor General of Canada, has passed away at the age of 81. Mr. LeBlanc served as Her Majesty The Queen's representative from 1995 to 1999.

The first Acadian to serve as vice-regal, Mr. LeBlanc's raised Canadians' awareness of Acadian culture and history - and was seen by many as a symbol for reconciliation between Acadians and the Crown.

Mr. LeBlanc was a very modest man. He often found it difficult to accept some of the ceremonial aspects that came with the vice-regal post. For example, he would ask women to go through the door ahead of him, even though as Governor General the courtesy of "going first" belonged to him. This was the down-to-earth character of Roméo-LeBlanc.

During his time as Governor General, Mr. LeBlanc championed volunteerism, culminating in the creation of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. He also took a keen interest in the teaching of Canadian history (he was a former educator himself), and Canada's Aboriginal peoples. In 1996, he issued a Royal Proclamation making National Aboriginal Day an annual observation.

Roméo LeBlanc died at his home in New Brunswick after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease. Mr. LeBlanc is survived by his wife Diana Fowler LeBlanc and their four children.

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