As we prepare to bid adieu to Charles Gagné, the long-time CEO of Actionmarguerite who’s retiring at the end of March, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on his contributions to the organization he led so passionately for over 15 years.
“There’s one story that stands out for me,” says Daniel Lussier, CEO of Réseau Compassion Network. “He and I were talking about values and what it means to be true to them. He spoke passionately about a couple who had been together over 60 years, only to be separated when it was time to make the move to long-term care.”
“After months of wrangling, they were eventually reunited at Actionmarguerite and the team there was able to put them in a room together. They didn’t want to be apart, and who can blame them? Charles got emotional when he told me about the experience. It mattered to him…they as individuals mattered to him. He was aware that he was running an organization, but that most of all that he’d been entrusted to care for people and honour them along the final steps of their journey.”
Stéphane Dorge, Director of Governance Services and Corporate Secretary for Réseau Compassion Network, echoes those sentiments. “I remember when my own grandmother was living at what was then known as Valade, and I would see him walking the halls,” he says. “He understood that you have to talk to people and be a part of what’s happening in the organization that you lead.”
Both men admire Gagné for the fact that while he knew his mission was about people and their care, he was also a progressive leader when it came to administration and strategy. “He created a lot of really important opportunities with government and was often called upon to give his perspective and ideas,” explains Lussier. “He’s been a well-respected member of the long-term care community and we’ll miss having his voice at the table.”
“He’s always been ahead of the curve,” continues Dorge. “He did some incredible work on our elder care strategy and was able to bring his board along in a way that was truly admirable. He’s a thinker, but also a doer.”
In true Winnipeg fashion, Dorge and Gagné have worked together at several points throughout their careers. While Dorge knows his colleague has earned his rest and retirement, he suspects that there’s still more to come. “I’m sure we’ll see him around,” he speculates. “No pressure, but I hope he’s not done yet!”
“He’s bright and competent and truly knows the business,” Lussier concludes, giving the highest compliment he has on hand. “But it’s his heart that made the difference. He’d have made a really good grey nun.”