Fabre MNA awards National Assembly Medal to devoted environmentalist

Réjean Gravel has been a driving force in preserving the Boisé Sainte-Dorothée

Prior to an annual cleanup conducted by volunteers at the Boisé Sainte-Dorothée in western Laval last Saturday, Fabre Liberal MNA Moniqué Sauvé presented a leader of the movement to preserve the forested area with one of Quebec’s highest recognitions for public service – the Quebec National Assembly Medal.

Located in a decreed permanent agricultural zone in Laval’s Sainte-Dorothée sector, the Sainte-Dorothée woods takes up an area estimated to be around one-twelfth of the City of Laval’s territory. Réjean Gravel has worked tirelessly for decades to see that the woods were preserved for future generations of Laval residents.

Popular for outings

The forested area, which can be accessed from an entrance with parking at the northern end of Mont-Laval St., is managed by two groups: CANOPÉE and the Association pour la protection du Boisé Sainte-Dorothée.

Left, Réjean Gravel, a founding member of the APBSD in 2003 and president of its board of directors from 2011 to 2019, is seen here being presented by Fabre Liberal MNA Monique Sauvé with the National Assembly Medal for his decades of volunteer work to protect the Boisé Sainte-Dorothé which is located in Fabre. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

The woods are an increasingly popular destination for people from all over Laval seeking to commune with nature while staying close to home. Gravel was a founding member of the APBSD in 2003 and president of its board of directors from 2011 to 2019.

Active environmentalist

Gravel was a founder and board member of CANOPÉE, which has simultaneously been promoting the preservation of other forested areas in Laval. In addition, he has sat on the City of Laval’s consultative committee for the environment since 2018 and is well-known in Laval and throughout the Montreal region as a commentator and critic of government environmental policies. Gravel was also the recipient in 2015 of a Hosia award from the City of Laval for his long-time community involvement.

“It is my privilege to bestow the Medal of the National Assembly of Québec to Réjean Gravel, a true ambassador of the Sainte-Dorothée Woods (boisé Sainte-Dorothée),” Sauvé said during an informal presentation ceremony held on the edge of the woods.

Nature and wildlife preserve

“Through his tremendous involvement, he succeeded in improving the every day life of hundreds of families of my riding by the protection of our environment, and so for many years,” she added.

In an interview with the Laval News, Philippe Cadieux, vice-president of the APBSD, noted that the Boisée Sainte-Dorothée is one of a few very large wooded areas in Laval and that the diversity of its flora and fauna make it a unique spot to watch and observe nature. “These woods are even larger than Mount Royal Park,” added Louise Auclair, secretary of the organization’s board.

A concerted effort

CANOPÉE was founded in 2017 by a group of mostly Laval residents from various volunteer groups dedicated to the preservation of natural areas in Laval, including the APBSD. Since then, the members of the CANOPÉE network have been working towards the protection, conservation and improvement of forested areas and woods across Laval so that they can be enjoyed by everyone.

In addition to the medal, Sauvé also presented Gravel with a gift: a copy of a painting created by Quebec artist Marc Aurèle Fortin, who was born in Laval’s Sainte-Rose village where he painted some of his most important works. The vividly colourful foliage seen in the painting was very much like the autumn leaves on the trees in the Boisé Sainte-Dorothée last Saturday.

Who gets the Medals

According to a description on the Quebec National Assembly website, the National Assembly Medal is awarded by the Members of the Assembly:

  • To people of their choice who are deserving of recognition, or
  • As an official gift to Members of other parliaments, elected officials or other public figures during parliamentary missions outside Quebec or protocol receptions at the Parliament Building.

Medal Characteristics

  • Composition: bronze, lacquered antique finish;

Reverse: effigy of Jean-Antoine Panet, the first Speaker of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada (before 1968, the President of the Assembly was called the Speaker). The effigy reproduces part of the painting, The Language Debate, by Charles Huot, that hangs in the National Assembly Chamber of the Parliament Building. A miniature replica of the Medal of the National Assembly is also sold at the National Assembly gift shop.

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Martin C. Barry
LJI Reporter. A journalist with the Laval News since 2005. During his 27 years covering political and community issues in the Montreal region, Marty has won numerous journalism awards from the Quebec Community Newspapers Association for written coverage as well as for photography. marty@newsfirst.ca