MICHEL GERVAIS

Strategic consultant

A philanthropist is a person with a big heart and no axe to grind
Even in retirement Michel is still involved at BNP Philanthropic Performance. He enjoys sharing his experience and working with younger people, and wants to remain active in equipping organizations to carry out their missions effectively.

In Michel’s view, philanthropy is love of one’s neighbour, which manifests itself in many ways, not only financially. Philanthropy is generous, is free of self-interest, and always finds concrete expression, monetary donations being only one such expression. Philanthropy gives society value added; this goodness is something like oxygen, breathing benevolence, giving of itself, and fostering a human approach.

Having taught theology at Université Laval since 1968, Michel was appointed as the university’s vice-rector of teaching and research in 1982, and elected rector of this venerable institution in 1987. During his decade long tenure, which was distinguished by remarkable progress on all fronts for the university, his peers chose him to chair the Conférence des recteurs du Québec, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Association internationale des universités francophones (AUF), and World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

Michel headed a major fundraising campaign at Université Laval that surpassed its goal of $60 million. With the support of BNP, he also co-chaired a major fundraising campaign at the Collège de Lévis; at the time, the campaign set a record in Quebec for secondary school fundraising.

Following his career at Université Laval, Michel was chosen as director general of the psychiatric hospital in Québec, which under his leadership was transformed to become the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec. This institute’s neuroscience and mental health research centre is ranked second in Canada.

LIVING PHILANTHROPY MEANS
loving the human race.

At age 76, Michel still recalls a major fundraising campaign in the late 1950s to build the Grand Séminaire de Québec, now the Pavillon Louis-Jacques-Casault at Université Laval. The appeal was televised and spearheaded by Father Émile Legault; the fundraising goal was $6 million. This entire amount was raised in a single Sunday afternoon!

Another indelible memory, this one from Michel’s childhood, is the community mobilization that followed a fire that had destroyed a local garage. The parish priest, dispensing parishioners from their obligation to rest on the Sabbath, invited them instead to help out. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians and jacks of all trades pulled together in an exemplary demonstration of philanthropy and mutual assistance. Michel remembers accompanying his mother to bring his dad a lunch box.

Michel has been a member, or the chair, of dozens of local, national and international boards of directors, in both public and private sectors. From the Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut and the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, to the Association des grands brûlés (F.L.A.M.) [association of severe burn survivors] in Québec, by way of the Québec Metro High Tech Park, the Collège de Lévis, and Industrial Alliance, Michel has taken part in numerous fundraising campaigns, all of which exceeded their objectives.

Michel’s three ways to a better world:

  1. Let brotherhood and sisterhood inspire relationships among individuals and peoples.
  2. Let there be better distribution of wealth in our communities and around the world.
  3. Let humanity be capable of reversing the trend toward injuring nature and life.

His expertises

  • Business development
  • Major fundraising campaign
  • Research funding

His sectors

  • Education
  • Health
  • Arts and culture
  • Religious

Michel's awards and distinctions

  • Honorary doctorates from McGill University, Bishop’s University, the University of Manitoba, and Université de Montréal
  • Officer of France’s Ordre national du mérite, the Order of Canada, and the Ordre national du Québec