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James Shea, advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community, dies

James Shea, advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and former president of QCGN, has died.
James Shea, advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and former president of QCGN, has died. Handout

James Shea, a pioneering advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and former president of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), has died at 76.

The Aylmer, Que., native was a former teacher, school principal and school board administrator.

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“No words can express the sadness of Mr. Shea’s death. Our school board, as well as the entire English community in Quebec, has lost a visionary, a leader like no other and a remarkable person who was appreciated, respected and valued by everybody who knew him,” said Mike Dubeau, director general of the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB).

“Jim was all about providing the best possible educational and social experience for our students. I’m confident that his legacy will continue to live on in each of us, as evidenced in the work we do in our schools, centres and communities.”

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At his passing, Shea was serving as chairman of the WQSB. He was also vice-president of the Quebec English School Boards Association.

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“Jim was a fervent advocate for Quebec’s English-speaking community and an impassioned proponent of bilingualism,” said QCGN President Geoffrey Chambers.

“Jim led our network during momentous times.”

Chambers notes that Shea was instrumental in helping QCGN successfully advocate for increased language support from the federal government as well as in encouraging the Quebec government to create a secretariat to improve relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

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“Jim was committed to strengthening and promoting Canada’s two official languages and human rights,” added Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of QCGN.

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Shea leaves behind his wife of 55 years, Theresa, as well as his four daughters and their families.

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His funeral will be held at St. Mark the Evangelist Church at 160 Principale Rd. in Aylmer at 11 a.m. Friday, followed by a reception in the church hall.

In lieu of gifts, the family is asking for donations to be made to the WQSB’s James Shea Memorial Fund to support disadvantaged students.

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Several organizations across the political sphere took to social media to express their condolences.