George Gardner honoured by Lafarge

Former Lafarge employee and Whitefish River First Nation (WRFN) community member George Gardner stands next to the new waterfront pavilion by the WRFN Lafarge cement terminal named in his honour, ‘The George Gardner Wassai Giizhagaad Bright Day Pavilion.’ photo by Robin Burridge

WHITEFISH RIVER—Lafarge honoured former employee and Whitefish River First Nation (WRFN) community member George Gardner this week, unveiling a new waterfront pavilion at the plant, ‘The George Gardner Wassai Giizhagaad Bright Day Pavilion.’

The unveiling was held at the annual Lafarge Whitefish River terminal community fish fry, which Mr. Gardner started in 1994.

“We had to move the fish fry to the WRFN community centre a couple of years ago as the old pavilion was in need of repair,” explained Lafarge Operations Manager Howard Scruton. “George suggested that we move the fish fry back to the waterfront, but we knew the pavilion was need of repair so we decided to build a new one and dedicate it to him. George worked at Lafarge for 43 years. He helped me when I first moved here—as a mentor, helping me develop and foster relationships with the community.”

“I didn’t suspect this at all,” said Mr. Gardner, following the dedication. “I’m very honoured, and it’s amazing that they named it the ‘Bright Day Pavilion’ as my (spirit) name, Wassai Giizhagaad, means Bright Day. The community fish fry has really grown over the years—one year we had 224 people attend.

Alex Wojciechowski, Lafarge cement industrial director, thanked everyone for attending the community picnic.

“We wanted to do something to honour George, or as he is known, Father Lafarge, for his long standing contribution to the community and Lafarge,” said Mr. Wojciechowski.

“I want to thank you for what you have done for us and for the community,” added Bruno Roux, Lafarge Eastern Canada CEO.

“I’m a little taken back,” said Mr. Gardner. “This brings a tear to my eyes. Thank you.”