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Jean Rousselle Wears his Heart on his Sleeve
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of
Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy as well as
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Public
Security. Whether he’s at his local office or at the
National Assembly, Rousselle takes time to give
back to the community.
Volunteering at a Young Age
Having lived in Vimont since the age of eight, Rousselle describes himself as a product of the area. He went to Père Vimont Elementary School and completed his high school studies at École Curé-Antoine-Labelle. While he was still in elementary school, his father founded Service des Loisirs Saint-Bruno de Laval, and it was during this time that he was first introduced to volunteering. “It was a family affair, so we all had to help out,” he says. At eight years old, his contribution was placing the tables and chairs, but he soon fell in love with the act of giving to others. His mother was also involved with the Service bénévole d’entraide de Vimont-Auteuil.
“When you volunteer and you know you are really helping people out, that’s the reward,” says Rousselle. He feels fortunate to have grown up in a familyoriented household. “I’m very lucky. Both my parents are still alive. I grew up in a good family with my three sisters. Our family was very athletic,” he says.
As far back as he can remember, Rousselle looked up to his father, who was a police officer and very involved in the community. “I always wanted to be a police officer growing up. At school, when people would talk badly about the police, I would defend them because I knew what it took to be a policeman,” he says. Following in his father’s footsteps, Rousselle also became a police officer.
Family Life and Travels
Though his current schedule is very hectic, Rousselle always makes time for his family. “My family is my anchor. They keep me grounded,” he says. Sundays are for family activities such as skiing with his wife, his son and his two grandchildren, followed by a family supper. Monday evenings are spent dining with his parents. Rousselle also enjoys jogging. “I listen to music and I’m in my own bubble. The only thing I think about is my breathing,” he says.
Travelling is another passion of his, with backpack travelling topping the list. The Amazon, India, Nepal and Haiti are just some of the many countries he’s visited. His most memorable vacation experience was climbing Mount Everest with his wife. “It wasn’t easy, but I loved it!” he says. “I like to visit countries that are very different from our own. It gets me out of my comfort zone,” he says. “Send me to any country in the world, give me a few hours and then I will feel right at home.”
30 Years of Police Service
Rousselle was a Laval police officer for 30 years, and Vice-Chair of Finances for the Franternité des policiers de Laval for 23 years. He also founded the annual Journée spaghetti for Laval police offi- cers, which raises funds for children with kidney diseases to attend camps and also provides funding for kidney disease research. It’s a cause that is particularly important to him. “I remember one day I was sitting on a bench watching the children attend camp. They were so happy. Suddenly, a little boy I didn’t know came up to me. He kissed me on the cheek and said Thank you Mr. police officer. I’m here thanks to you. It really touched my heart. That was my reward,” says Rousselle. In 30 years, the spaghetti fundraiser has raised more than one million dollars on behalf of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Through his role as a police officer, Rousselle found other ways to get involved in the community, such as organizing blood drives. “When you’re a police officer, you have a repressed role, but at the same time, we want people to come to us when they have problems,” explains Rousselle. “It’s two different ways of being.” Despite this dichotomy, Rousselle believes it’s important for law enforcement to be involved in the community.
During a trip to Haiti, Rousselle realized that many children didn’t go to school during the day because they couldn’t afford it, so Rousselle decided to build a school. The Mark-Bourque School was founded in 2006 in Debussy, near Port-au-Prince. “When we opened the school, there were 40 students. Now there are 250,” he says. The education is free and lunch is provided for the students. The school was named in honour of Mark Bourque, a Quebec police officer who died in service in Port-au Prince during a 2005 peace mission.
From 2005 to 2006, Rousselle was the Team Leader for donating countries and responsible for the welcome and departure committee for the United Nations in Haiti. “I fell in love with the country. When I was there, I learned something new every day,” he says. “I love the Haitian people. I became really attached.”
In his role as MNA for Vimont, Rousselle meets with many citizens in his district. “When someone wants to meet with me, I make it a point to listen,” he says. His efforts might vary from helping a youngster get a life-saving medical treatment to distributing Christmas baskets to families in need. “I’m always serving the community,” he says. In his role as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy as well as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Public Security, he supports the Minister and provides his thoughts and opinions wherever needed.
His vision for Vimont includes offering more services to the general public, making Cité-de-la-Santé Hospital a university hospital, and improving the fluidity of public transport. “I would like for Laval to become autonomous in the sense that we don’t have to go to Montreal to obtain services,” he says. Rousselle points to the new cancerology center in Laval as an example.
Rousselle hopes to be remembered for his social implication. With more than 50 years of volunteering under his belt, his many awards and medals for public service speak volumes to the impact he has made here in Laval as well as overseas.
Translation by Lisa Cipriani
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