Sister Leonne Dumesnil, SNJM, C.M.
Sister Léonne Dumesnil is a sister of the Holy Names of Jesus, and she was an elementary school principal at Sacré Coeur Elementary School; the first public French Immersion School in the Winnipeg School Division and the province. She advocated for the need for French language training in Manitoba that went deeper than a surface understanding of communication. She knew that opening our eyes to culture, language and community would create a lifelong passion for learning and a group of youth that would continue to promote French education all over the province and indeed the country. These students would go on to live and work in French communities. Many of these students went on to become French language educators, translators for the government of Canada, lawyers using both official languages, university professors presently working in the French language, and CBC French talk show hosts.
Sister Léonne always paid special attention to all her students, remembering their names, families and what they had gone on to in their educational endeavours. She participated in panel discussions regarding French language learning and its success and relevance in our society. She was interviewed by CBC Canada about her inspiration for language learning. She was always a guardian and promoter of her students and made them feel special, even though she taught thousands of students at Sacré Coeur. Indeed, in 2018 the Winnipeg School Division counted 4717 French Immersion students in their schools.
Sister Léonne was awarded the Order of Canada in 1980 for her outstanding contribution to education in Manitoba.
Her community continued to show faith in her abilities as a trailblazer and named her Superior of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a position that carries a great degree of responsibility and importance.
La Liberté Fonds