Acadian activist, educator Jean-Guy Rioux dead at 76

Order of Canada recipient dedicated his life to French language and culture through roles in education and advocacy work in New Brunswick.

A member of the Order of Canada, Rioux dedicated his life to French language and culture

Acadian educator, French language advocate, and community leader Jean-Guy Rioux died Wednesday at the age of 76.

With a passion for French language and culture, Rioux served his country and province through many positions in French-Acadian leadership roles.

"He [fought] for linguistic rights, for equality, between both official languages," said Tracadie-Sheila MLA Serge Rousselle. "He's truly a man that devoted all his life to his community, to his province."

Early life

Born in Shippagan, Rioux attended the local regional school before moving to l'École normale de Fredericton. He received a bachelor of arts from Bathurst College, a bachelor of education from University of Moncton, and later a master of arts in education, also from University of Moncton.

He's truly a man that devoted all his life to his community, to his province.- Serge Rousselle, Tracadie-Sheila MLA

​Rioux worked as a teacher and principal early in his career, teaching a range of subjects, and even spending a few years overseas in Chad and Senegal.

In the late-70s, he moved into post-secondary education, serving as the director of northeast continuing education for the Shippagan University Centre, of the University of Moncton, where he had many accomplishments including serving as vice president and establishing the Centre for Research and Development of Marine Products.

"I think that education was certainly at the centre of his life," said Rousselle.

Volunteer work

Outside of his work as an educator, Rioux served as president of many French-language organizations, including the Association Canadienne D'éducation de Langue Française, La Société des Acadiens et Acadiennes du Nouveau-Brunswick and the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities.

His involvement in the community also extended to government, where he served as deputy mayor of Shippagan.

His numerous contributions to the community were recognized more recently when he was awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of New Brunswick.

"It just shows how much his devotion to his province and the francophonie was well-recognized," said Rousselle. "It seems like everywhere I go all my life, he's always around."

"He was somebody who cared about others and who didn't count the number of hours to work with all the citizens of the province to make it a better place to live."

With files from Information Morning Moncton