Gerry Cutting learned about giving back at a very young age when, as a toddler, his mother would offer words of wisdom to him and his sister when they would fight over chocolate.
“She would take me aside and say ‘you know what? Anything that you share tastes better,'” he told Global News.
“What she was really saying [is]…every time we can engage in an act of kindness or an act that is something for someone else, we transform the world.”
Since then, Cutting has dedicated his life to paying it forward and speaking out for those who can’t.
His work over the years is being honoured by the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Awards, which celebrate Quebecers who have impacted the English community in a remarkable way.
His first foray into the volunteer world was sitting on the board for what was then the Dixville Home for the intellectually handicapped.
Cutting realized his voice had the power to change lives.
“One of the first times I ever understood how vitally important it is if you have people who can’t say or express what they need, who are often marginalized – they were the castoffs,” he told Global News.
“I felt so very, very proud I was able to speak for them.”
He remained on the organization’s board for 47 years while also working as an educator – first as a teacher, then as the director of Champlain Regional College in Lennoxville.
In 1973, Cutting went on to found a social action group to help the English community deal with changes in the language laws.
In 1979, he helped created the Townshippers’ Association, where he’s been president since 2010.
Cutting is showing no signs of slowing down.
Most recently, he was involved in fighting against proposed Quebec school board reforms at the parliamentary commissions.
Through it all, Cutting insists he has remained a hopeless optimist, believing in the enormous power that comes from working together.
“What we have to learn to do is listen to the best parts of ourselves and connect to the best parts of other people and together we can do so much,” he said.