Tonight Mayor Jim Watson will recognize the celebrated voice of Ottawa’s Francophone news scene, Michel Picard, by presenting him with the Key to the City, Ottawa’s highest honour.
International Francophonie Day is a great day to commemorate our admiration and respect for Mr. Picard, who has been a fixture of French-language broadcasting in the Ottawa-Gatineau community for over 40 years. For decades he was part of daily life for those tuning in to Radio-Canada, hosting programs like “les Matineux” and “Tournée d’Amerique.” For 16 years he entered the living rooms of viewers of Le Téléjournal Ottawa-Gatineau every evening to present the daily news stories. Now he accompanies listeners on their drive home, broadcasting on 94.5 UniqueFM, Ottawa’s French-language community radio station.
As well-known for his talents on-air as for his close connection to the community, Mr. Picard is that rare combination of a prominent local personality who feels like a familiar long-time friend. In addition to his work as a radio host, television anchor, weekly columnist, part-time professor, guest speaker, honorary president of community events and member of various boards of directors, Mr. Picard has been a dedicated supporter of many local social causes, including education, health, cooperative projects and La Francophonie.
In addition to hosting many fundraising galas and telethons, Mr. Picard has been involved with the Festival franco-ontarien, the Regroupement des gens d’affaires de la Capitale nationale (RGA), Winterlude, the Patro d’Ottawa, the Vanier Museopark, the Mouvement d’implication francophone d’Orléans (MIFO), the Salon du livre de l’Outaouais, Bruyère Continuing Care, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), the Heart Institute, the Montfort Hospital and the United Way Ottawa. He chaired La Cité’s first fundraising campaign, and for the last two years, he has led the fundraising campaign for United Way Outaouais.
As for awards, we’re not the only ones who’ve found him worthy of special recognition over the years. A non-exhaustive list includes the Prix Reconnaissance by the Regroupement des gens d’affaires de la capitale nationale, the United Way Ottawa Community Builder Award, the Prescott-Russell ACFO Ordre de la Francophonie, the Prix Communications et Société, the Prix René-Lecavalier-Molson, a Reel Award, the UQO Médaille Gérard-Lesage awarded by the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO), and the National Order of Merit by the French Republic.
The new award Mr. Picard receives tonight is a special one. At the ceremony, he will receive an ornamental key – the Key to the City – which is only presented to Ottawa’s most esteemed individuals. The key is symbolic of medieval walled cities, the gates of which would be guarded during the day and locked at night. Being given such a key means the recipient is free to enter and leave the city whenever they want, as a trusted friend of city residents.
Later this week, the City will continue to celebrate how our Francophone community enriches our lives at the 11th Annual Francophone Rendezvous with the Mayor, by bringing residents and community leaders together to honour a great local purveyor of French-language arts and culture, La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins.