The first Acadian premier of New Brunswick, Louis J. Robichaud, is a son of Saint-Antoine. In fact, he was affectionately known as ‘’Little Louis from Saint-Antoine’’ for a significant portion of his political career.
Louis J. Robichaud would have a significant impact on the political scene through his spirit and energy, leading him to reshape the socio-economic landscape of the province through a range of innovative reforms, including his most well-known, the celebrated Equal Opportunity for All program. It was also under his leadership that the first Official Languages Act was adopted, making New Brunswick an officially bilingual province.
Shortly after his death on January 6, 2005, a monument to his memory and his work was placed at the centre of the village, in the Gilbert-Léger Park and was inaugurated on August 12, 2007 in the presence of many dignitaries, including Lieutenant Governor Herménégilde Chiasson and Premier the Honorable Shawn Graham. This impressive structure is the work of visual artist Luc A. Charrette.
Description of the elements used
- The structure is made up of two main masses, erected side by side and supporting each other: it illustrates duality and equality, and is a reminder of Louis J. Robichaud’s fight against inequality and intolerance (English/ French, rich/poor, North/South of the province).
- A scale used to symbolize the fact that Louis J. Robichaud was a member of the Bar Association and also to illustrate his equality and social justice program.
- The graphic use of the words Chances égales/ Equal Opportunity, a reference to his vast social reform program called Equal Opportunity for All, and to the fact that his government adopted the Official Languages Act, which gave official recognition to the French Language.
- Louis J. Robichaud is presented at the left of the monument, as a subtle reminder of his left-wing political philosophy.
- A book, symbolizing education, because his government was responsible for creating the Université de Moncton, for integrating the teacher training school in universities and for establishing secondary schools, thus providing high-quality education for Acadians and ensuring the development of their culture.
- A fountain, to represent the sacred principle of water that is of universal. In many cosmogonies, water is the element used to create or recreate the world. The fountain is also conductive to meditation and to contemplation.
BiographyTHE HONOURABLE Louis J. Robichaud was born in Saint-Antoine, Kent County, New Brunswick, on October 21, 1925, the son of Amédée and Annie Robichaud (born Richard). He was admitted to the New Brunswick Bar in 1952 and, during the same year, was elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for Kent County. He was re-elected in 1956 and 1960. Mr. Robichaud was elected Leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party in October 1958. He acted as Leader of the Opposition between 1959 and 1960. The Liberal Party of New Brunswick won the provincial election on June 22, 1960. He thus became the first elected Acadian Premier of his province when his government was sworn in on July 12, 1960. He was re-elected during the elections of April 1963 and September 1967.
Mr. Robichaud became a Member of the Privy Council of Canada, being sworn-in by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in Montreal, on July 5, 1967.
Although personally re-elected to the Legislative Assembly during the October 1970 election, his government was defeated. On April 10, 1971, he resigned his seat and his post as Leader of the Opposition. On May 1, 1971, he became Chairman of the Canadian Section of International Joint Commission. Mr. Robichaud was appointed to the Senate of Canada on December 21, 1973. He took mandatory retirement on October 21, 2000.
Several Canadian and Foreign universities awarded him honoris causa doctorates, among them his Alma Mater, the Université de Sacré-Cœur, in Bathurst, and l’Université Laval in Québec City. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, a Member of the Order of New Brunswick and Commander of France’s Order of the Legion of Honour.
From his first marriage to the late Lorraine Savoie, of Néguac, N.B., he had four children: Jean-Claude, Paul, René and Monik. He remarried to the former Jacqueline Clément, of Ottawa.
To appreciate his life and career, please read: Michel Cormier, Louis J. Robichaud – Une révolution si peu tranquille, Moncton, Les Éditions de la Francophonie, 2004 and: L’ère Louis J. Robichaud, 1960-1970, Actes du colloque, Moncton, Institut canadien de recherche sur le développement régional, Collection MARITIMES, 2001