Honorary Degree Citation - Jean Béliveau*

by Richard Courtemanche, June 2009

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Mr. Jean Béliveau: hockey legend, ambassador for the Montreal Canadiens, and beloved public figure.

There aren’t many people who can claim that their name appears on the Stanley Cup 17 times. Few among us have been recognized as the NHL’s most valuable player on more than one occasion. And I’m willing to bet that not many people in this hall have been offered a seat in the Senate, let alone twice.

Monsieur Béliveau a en effet refusé de siéger au Sénat. Il a même décliné le poste de gouverneur général, pour une simple et unique raison: passer plus de temps avec les membres de sa famille. Les remarquables contributions de ce grand homme au hockey professionnel et à la communauté en ont ainsi fait l’un des leaders les plus exemplaires qu’ait connus le monde du hockey.

In Mr. Béliveau’s 18 seasons of on-ice leadership with the Montreal Canadiens, the team won the Stanley Cup 10 times. His performance is nothing short of legendary; when he retired from hockey in 1971 he was the team’s all-time points leader, second all-time in goals, and the NHL’s leading playoff scorer.

Jean Béliveau is highly regarded for his sportsmanship; he served as the captain of the Canadiens for a decade. After retirement, he remained active with the team as an executive and goodwill ambassador, hence the 17 engravings on Lord Stanley’s cup.

En dehors du hockey, M. Béliveau s’est consacré à servir les autres. Il a ainsi érigé la Fondation Jean-Béliveau, qui vient en aide aux enfants dans le besoin. En plus de ses nombreuses œuvres philanthropiques, il s’est intéressé à l’immobilier et au monde des affaires par le biais de la compagnie Jean Béliveau inc.

He is one of Canada’s best-loved public figures. In 1998, he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest honour. Mr. Béliveau was also recognized with a portrait on a Canadian postage stamp and received Concordia’s prestigious Loyola Medal in 1995.

For Clarence Campbell, the former president of the NHL, Mr. Béliveau is more than a brilliant role model. “He provides hockey with a magnificent image,” he said. “I couldn’t speak more highly of anyone who has ever been associated with our game than I do of Jean.”

Jean Béliveau est en effet une véritable source d’inspiration pour nos étudiants. Et il le restera pour les générations à venir. Car il a su faire face aux blessures, à la maladie et aux drames familiaux avec dignité, malgré la pression. C’est un homme engagé qui a une capacité remarquable à unir les gens dans la poursuite d’un objectif commun.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Jean Béliveau so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased