Monday, November 20, 2017 | Written by City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan, Point Douglas Ward
This morning, in the Point Douglas Ward, I had the honour and privilege of hosting a park renaming. Joining me was the entire student population of 600 plus students of Meadows West School, Winnipeg School Division dignitaries, several neighbours and members of the Meadows West community, teachers & staff of Meadows West School, and Mr. Roger Le Grand’s family. Today was indeed a great day for the Meadows West Community! We celebrated the spirit of advocacy, community engagement & collaboration, and of Mr. Le Grand’s vision & unwavering tenacity that transformed an essentially barren green space into a relevant community amenity!
I still remember my initial conversations with Mr. Le Grand. In 2010 the Meadows West Community became part of the Point Douglas ward, and in early 2011 Mr. Le Grand and I had a meeting where I learned quickly about many of the “issues” of Rose Hill Park from the poor water drainage, to the ageing playground structure that had many safety issues, to the need for more seating. Needless to say it was an enlightening meeting. I immediately discerned a couple of things: that the park needed lots of work and secondly that Mr. Le Grand was a very passionate advocate!
To ensure the redevelopment of Rose Hill Park reflected the needs of the community, both Mr. Le Grand and I felt the importance of doing public engagements with the students & with the community. The public engagements ensured that the students were able to select in a democratic fashion which playground amenities they wanted and that the community was able to select the kinds of fitness stations along the fitness trail. The public engagement process also revealed that the community wanted to see several picnic tables along with a shade shelter and seating area.
Mr. Roger Le Grand, whom the park is named after, grew up in Winnipeg’s North End where he attended Robertson School, Andrew Mynarski, Tec Voc and Sisler High School where he graduated with extra credits. He graduated with a Bachelor of Education and Pre-Masters in Education from the University of Manitoba and has been an educator with the Winnipeg School Division for 40 years. Mr. Le Grand has been the Principal for Meadows West School for the past 11 years. Roger Le Grand has always had passion to teach young people, and his love of learning is something he has always wanted to share with others from an early age.
It has been truly an honour to work alongside an inspirational gentleman. A wonderful person who has been a great leader for the school, parents and especially the Meadows West community. As an educator, community member and a lifelong North Winnipeg resident, Mr. Le Grand has dedicated himself to advocating for children and the importance of learning for all. Foremost 20th century poet, William Butler Yeats said that “education is not about filing pails, it’s about lighting fires.” Mr. Le Grand’s vision was the spark and bright flame that inspired me, the students and the community for the redevelopment of Rose Hill Park. I thought to myself, what would be the best way to honour the incredible story of the student & community collaboration for the park, than to rename this park as Roger Le Grand Park. Nearly one year ago today, Winnipeg City Council unanimously supported my motion to rename Rose Hill Park to Roger Le Grand Park. When Winnipeggers come to visit the park they will come to know of the vision & passion of Mr. Le Grand and of the wonderful community effort that I think truly defines our City!