Vanier elementary school renamed after Mauril Bélanger

Vanier elementary school renamed after Mauril Bélanger

The local French public school board has renamed one of its elementary schools after Mauril Bélanger, the longtime Ottawa–Vanier MP who died in 2016 after a battle with ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

École élémentaire publique Le Trillium was officially rechristened l'École élémentaire publique Mauril Bélanger on Thursday, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO) said in a press release.

The Montgomery Street school is in the city's Vanier neighbourhood, which Bélanger represented at the federal level for 21 years after first winning a by-election for the Liberals in 1995.

"Mr. Bélanger devoted his life to the Francophonie in Ontario. He was always an inspiration for us and for our students. His legacy will survive him," CEPEO director of education Édith Dumont said in a French-language statement.

Outspoken advocate

Bélanger was an outspoken advocate for the rights of French-Canadians during his time as an MP, successfully fighting to keep Ottawa's Montfort Hospital open in 1997 when the provincial Progressive Conservatives decided to close the French-language facility's doors.

He began having problems speaking during the 2015 election campaign, and his condition quickly deteriorated. One of his final acts was to successfully get his private member's bill to make the national anthem more gender neutral passed in the House of Commons.

The renaming of Le Trillium after Bélanger comes as the school marks its 30th anniversary.