Winnipeg’s most iconic sports fan will soon add another honour to his expansive awards list.
Gabriel (Dancing Gabe) Langlois will receive an honorary diploma in community development from Red River College at its winter 2021 convocation ceremony Feb. 23.
Dancing Gabe has become a household name in Winnipeg amidst more than 35 years of sporting event appearances, volunteering, and work with the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg. His impressive list of accolades includes the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Winnipeg’s Community Service Award.
Even so, Gabe said his first honorary degree was "an honour."
"It made my day," he told the Free Press on Thursday. "It made my late mom and dad proud, too."
His sister, Claudette Langlois, said the award couldn’t go to a better person.
"I’m very proud of him," she said. "Even just to go down to Red River and get the pictures taken and everything, he’s pretty happy, so it’s been really nice."
The decision by a nominating committee and the RRC board of governors was an easy one, RRC president and chief executive officer Fred Meier said, calling Gabe "one of our most well-known and beloved Manitobans."
"If you look at the honorary diploma that he is receiving in community development, it really embodies what that program is trying to accomplish... It’s about building communities and embedding community spirit in what we do, bringing people together," Meier said. "He really does live those values."
Gabe's sister agrees: "He’s been volunteering for years, he’s volunteered for everything. A lot of people know him in the city, and we live in a great city to acknowledge what he’s done."
It was a spot of good news in what has been a tough year for the sports fanatic. Gabe groaned when asked how he’s taken the last year without live sports in the city due the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It’s felt disappointing, I guess. It’s felt disappointing… but I just went to my first Jets game last Saturday against the Ottawa Senators," he said.
His voice then took on a more cheerful tone. "I danced with (mascot) Mick E. Moose."
The most recent recipient of an RRC honorary degree (Indigenous social enterprise) was advocate/elder Mae Louise Campbell, at the Winnipeg school's fall 2020 convocation.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.