Ste Agathe mourns loss of leader

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This article was published 14/04/2021 (484 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ste Agathe is mourning the loss of a community leader who spent more than 50 years pitching in, giving back, and building up.

Jeannot Robert died Sunday, March 28 at his home in Ste Agathe following a battle with cancer. He was 72.

RM of Ritchot mayor Chris Ewen remembered his former council colleague as someone with “kind manners and big plans.”

JORDAN ROSS / CARILLON ARCHIVES Jeannot Robert, pictured here outside is home in Ste Agathe on Feb. 19, died Sunday, March 28.

Robert, a two-term Ritchot councillor, retired from politics in 2018. Ewen arrived on council in 2017. A four-decade age gap didn’t prevent the two men from becoming fast friends.

“He really was a mentor for me. We became very close. I would visit with him almost at a monthly, if not weekly, basis for sure,” Ewen said in a phone interview.

“We would sit around and talk and when I had a question, he was always there to help me and guide me through it. He was one of the closest friends I’ve had in quite a long time.”

Ewen said Robert knew how to and look beyond his own preferences and make decisions in the public interest.

“He was wanting to make sure that all of Ritchot had the same opportunities that his hometown had. It’s great to see that.”

Raised on a farm seven miles south of Ste Agathe, Robert moved his young family to town in 1975. He first made his name in town as a business leader, owning and operating Ste Agathe Service Centre for 25 years.

Before long, Robert was volunteering on the minor hockey board and parish finance committee. He later served as founding president of Ste Agathe CDI (Community Development Inc.).

Robert also worked as the town’s waterworks manager. In 1997, during the Red River Flood of the Century, Robert coordinated the town’s sandbagging and cleanup effort. Afterward, he advised the province as it constructed a new dike around the town.

Robert also developed several residential subdivisions in Ste Agathe that today are filled with many young families.

“At any opportunity that there was for growth or innovation…he was always there,” Ewen said.

Robert’s career as an elected official started at Red River Valley School Division, where he served on the board of trustees. Next he became a Ritchot ward councillor.

Ewen said Robert was a good listener who knew how to stay upbeat and communicate effectively with residents.

Last September, Robert received a Community Leadership Award from Volunteer Manitoba. In February, he also received an Honour 150 medal from the Manitoba 150 Host Committee.

Ewen said he was proud to see Robert in the provincial spotlight.

“I think it couldn’t have been given to a better person,” he said. “He’s done a lot more than I’ll ever be able to do, so I’m proud to be able to have worked beside him.”

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