GILBERT SABOURIN

January 3, 1943 – June 3, 2019

GILBERT FRANÇOIS SABOURIN

C'est avec une profonde tristesse que la famille Sabourin annonce le décès de son doyen Gilbert le 3 juin, 2019, à la suite d'une courte maladie. Gilbert laisse dans le deuil son épouse Yvette (née Emond), ses enfants Micheline (Stéphane), Julie (Aaron), Alain (Ayumi) et sept petits-enfants, Chloé, Solène, Calixte, Lili, Coralie, Aissa et Arika. Il laisse en outre une grande famille, originaire de Saint-Jean Baptiste, composée de six frères et soeurs dont Richard (Elaine), Philippe (Monique), Roger (Lynne), Colette (Jacques), Monique (Dave) et Aimé (Nancy) ainsi que les membres de sa belle-famille, Gilbert (Rose) et Hubert (Andrée).

 

Gilbert est né, une soirée orageuse, le 3 janvier 1943.  Il passe ses premières années à jouer avec les animaux de la ferme jusqu'à l'arrivée de son frère Richard.  Ensemble, ils s'accompagnaient à la Petite école du lac. Fier d'avoir grandi sur la ferme, Gilbert quitte la terre franche de ses aïeux afin de poursuivre ses études supérieurs au pensionnat de St. Boniface. Après quelques cours en aviation et même un séjour au noviciat, Gilbert découvre le domaine de l'éducation ou il y trouve sa passion.  Il décide de faire une maîtrise en psychologie à l'Université d'Ottawa. Il déménage donc à la capitale nationale avec son épouse Denise Muller.  Son fils Normand nait peu après dans sa ville adoptée ou il commence sa carrière de professeur dans une école secondaire à Hull.  De retour l'année suivante au Manitoba, Denise et Normand décèdent tragiquement dans un accident de voiture. 

 

Endeuillé, Gilbert décide de partir en voyage autour du monde ou ses folles aventures le mènent aux quatre coins de la terre.  Il traverse l'Australie au pouce, se porte volontaire comme secouriste durant la guerre du Vietnam, se baigne dans le fleuve sacré du Gange et visite la ville de Phnom Penh à vélo. Marqué de ces expériences, il s'installe chez lui un sens profond de communautarisme et de tolérance.

 

Professeur, directeur et finalement agent en éducation pour le bureau de l'Éducation française (son BEF tant aimé), il y consacre son énergie et son dévouement jusqu'à la retraite. Nous soulignons particulièrement sa collaboration prodigieuse dans l'avènement de la Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine, l'une de ses plus grande fierté. Nous tentons toujours de suivre ses pas, marcher dans ses traces pour assurer et promouvoir cette langue et culture franco-manitobaine si précieuse et emblématique.

 

Auteur de nombreuses blagues, il faisait rire chaque serveur du resto.  Il connaissait l'histoire de tous, surtout ceux qui avaient le privilège d'être assis à ses côtés sur l'avion direction Tokyo, Londres ou Paris. Bon vivant, farceur et plus volubile que laconique, Gilbert savourait chaque occasion de partager des mots de sagesse et de réconfort.  Il se réjouissait de l'intimité de ses proches et encourageait tous et toutes de s'accorder. Son  rire irrésistible et ensorcelant ponctuait toutes les réunions et les rencontres de famille.  Diplomate, il savait séduire tout le monde.

 

Il a connu des moments plus sombres après la retraite.  Il trouve refuge dans le programme des alcooliques anonymes.  Il se fraye un chemin pour sortir peu à peu de cette pénombre.  Il devient par la suite un mentor, un guide, une source de réconfort infatigable.

 

Amoureux de sa terre, de ses Jours de plaine, il nous quitte avec ses paroles judicieuses, "Ah, que c'est tough être francophone dans l'ouest!" 

 

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Surrounded by his family, Gilbert passed away peacefully on June 3, 2019 after a short illness, at the age of 76.  He is predeceased by his parents Louis et Annette Sabourin and his sister Monique (Dave) Daneault.  He leaves to mourn his wife Yvette (Emond), his children Micheline (Stéphane), Julie (Aaron), Alain (Ayumi) and grandchildren Chloé, Solène, Calixte, Lili, Coralie, Aissa and Arika, and his siblings Richard (Elaine), Philippe (Monique), Roger (Lynne), Colette (Jacques), Aime (Nancy) and multiple cousins, nephews, nieces and in-laws, including Gilbert (Rose) and Hubert (Andrée).

 

Gilbert was born on a stormy night on January 3,1943 in Morris, Manitoba.  He was raised on the farm in St-Jean Baptiste.  As the eldest of the family, his first play dates were with the pigs and other farm animals.  He left the farm at the tender age of 12 to pursue his studies in Winnipeg.  At harvest time, Gilbert would return often to help his father and brothers, proudly driving the combines and Sabourin Seed semi-trucks.

 

He later found his passion in eduction, which was much safer than combine driving.  As a teacher, he was fair but firm; as a principle he was resourceful and supportive.  He then moved to Ottawa with his wife Denise Muller where he completed a Masters degree at the University of Ottawa in psychology. There, his son Normand was born.  Soon after their return to Manitoba, his wife and child died tragically in a car accident. 

 

Bereaved, he left to travel the world to pursue a lifelong dream.  His travels took him to the four corners of the globe, including working as a paramedic during the Vietnam war, immersing himself in the sacred Ghangee river in India, fleeing the militia in Addis Ababa, and hitchhiking through Australia.  These experiences provided him with a strong appreciation for cultural differences and the importance of community.

 

Back in Canada, he re-built his life with Yvette and soon started a family.  His three children, Micheline, Julie and Alain were always a source of great pride. Micheline practices law, Julie has a career in massage therapy and Alain works as a tour guide, finally settling in Japan. Apart from his children, his biggest source of joy were his grandchildren with whom he loved to play and visit in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Japan.

 

Until retirement, Gilbert proudly worked at the Bureau de l'éducation française.  He was asked to join department of education to assist in the creation of a French language school division which eventually became the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine.

 

His devotion to his language and culture was unparalleled.  He worked tirelessly in the preservation and enhancement of French language rights, the establishment of the local French radio station 91.1 - Envol FM, the Société Franco-manitobaine and the Festival du Voyageur.  Gilbert was a pillar of community. 

 

Liked by many, loved by all, his endeavors were fulfilled with unrelenting vigor.  Following retirement, he lived through a difficult time but found solace in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Not only did he change his ways, he thrived in that community.  Everyone had a chance to get to know him because by helping others, he was able to help himself.  Always present to lend a hand or to listen untiringly, Gilbert was never without a wise word and the odd wisecrack.

 

His incandescent smile and piercing blue eyes were a manifestation of his joie de vivre and good humor. His trailblazing ways will forever be remembered.

 

Friends and relatives are encouraged to share in a photo-tribute, eulogy, stories and condolences for the family by commenting on the comments section of this page.

 

A celebration of life will be held from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. with testimonials at 2:00 p.m. at the Norwood Hotel, 112 Marion Street, on Sunday, June 9, 2019.

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