Supporting the AMBM's growth, every step of the way

September 28, 2018

Louis Tétrault profile

Louis Tétrault is retiring after more than 20 years of service to Manitoba's bilingual communities. The 62-year-old, who is stepping down as executive director of the AMBM and handing over the reins to Justin Johnson, is proud of past accomplishments and confident about the future.

Tétrault's unwavering commitment to rural committees, including his own, goes back a long way. When a 22-year-old Louis and his brothers and father purchased the La Broquerie lumber yard in 1978, the Seine River School Division had plans to close the high school in La Broquerie and bus students to Ste. Anne.  

"That was part of what prompted my engagement. I was involved with the parent committee, and school management is closely linked to the survival of small rural committees and culture."  

Louis Tétrault has always sought out opportunities to get involved. He was the founding chair of the Franco-Manitoban School Division (DSFM) in 1994, and chaired the steering committee of the États généraux de la francophonie manitobaine community consultations twice, in 1989 and again in 2014-15.

In 1995, Louis Tétrault was hired by the Association of Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities (AMBM) to organize an economic forum. "It was a fledgling association – not even incorporated. Raymond Poirier, then executive director, wanted to boost membership and ensure that the association was truly serving its members."

The forum was aimed at encouraging the municipalities to make economic development their priority. "Back then, the AMBM had ten members. We wanted to get municipal councillors and the business community out to the forum – at least 20 per municipality – and we succeeded.

"By making economic issues a priority, we were able to move forward, apply for funding and make the government aware of the need for an organization to coordinate economic development in Manitoba's bilingual municipalities."

The AMBM created CDEM (Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities) in 1996. Louis Tétrault poured all of his energy into this new venture. "I was the rural development coordinator. I worked extensively in the field with the member municipalities. It was the logical next step."   

In 2010, Louis Tétrault took the helm of the AMBM. For eight years, he was in charge of promoting Manitoba's bilingual municipalities and helping them with their development.

"The hardest thing was meeting with the municipal councils who were less than enthusiastic about bilingualism and our association. But there were so many other, happier, experiences: networking with the elected officials and member municipalities, seeing our issues moving forward, and gaining credibility, not just provincially but also at the national and international levels."

Louis Tétrault also worked with Mali and Burkina Faso, where he helped establish economic development councils based on the CDEM model. "Those organizations are still going strong and successful today. I'm very proud of how all that turned out." 

Another source of pride is the incredible growth of his beloved RM of La Broquerie under his leadership of the AMBM. "Most of our member municipalities are growing economically and demographically. It's the result of coordinating, stimulating and encouraging economic development, not just individually but collectively, with CDEM."   

Louis Tétrault can now confidently pass on the AMBM torch to Justin Johnson and plans to spend more time with his nine grandchildren and pursue his passion for travel. His next challenge? Learning Spanish!