Ghislain (Gil) Bellavance of Battleford, known throughout the community for his dedication to faith, history and common good, has passed away.
In its record of Bellavance receiving the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General of Canada, it is written: Few individuals have dedicated more time to improving their community than Gil Bellavance. He has spent nearly 30 years helping Canadian veterans access the services they need through the Last Post Fund. In addition, he has devoted a lifetime to volunteering with the Knights of Columbus.
According to Richard Hiebert’s biographical piece on Bellavance published in the News-Optimist, he was born Christmas Eve, 1935, to Joseph and Marie-Therese Bellavance at North Battleford. He was raised in Paynton and later moved to Delmas during the Second World War.
Following completion of high school at St. Thomas College, he joined the armed forces as a private soldier in 1954 and rose the ranks of Canada’s military.
After graduating from Royal Roads, Victoria, B.C., Bellavance was commissioned into the Royal 22e Regiment (the elite Van Doos), serving in Germany, and later Canada.
His experience includes training with the Green Berets in the U.S., and postings to the far East and later Cyprus. He also served in Malaysia with the British forces.
In the Seventies, Bellavance was deputy commander of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, later commander of Canadian Airborne Training Centre in Edmonton, and was posted to the Middle East as senior operations officer with the United Nations Emergency Force in the Sinai.
His fibal posting was with the Air Command Detachment in Regina. After his “retirement” from the regular forces, Bellavance served as commander of the Saskatchewan Militia District for three years, retiring with the rank of colonel. He later served as honorary colonel of the North Saskatchewan Regiment for 13 years.
Gil's military service, full and part time, totalled 45 years. He was also branch president of the Last Post Fund to 1993, and a longtime member of the Royal Canadian Legion No. 9.
Bellavance has been recognized for his efforts. He received the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medal for his 25 years dedicated to youth in the Army Cadets. He was also awarded the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for outstanding service to his country, community and fellow veterans.
In 2018, Bellavance received Light of Christ School Division’s Lumen Christi Award for his volunteer efforts within the division and within the several parishes where he acted as deacon. Among those duties included performing lay mass at Villa Pascal and on First Nations south of North Battleford.
“Deacon Gil is a man of faith and has been a member and supporter of St. Andre Catholic Church for many years,” said board vice chair Adrienne Welter at that presentation. Bellavance was also credited as being a large part of the St. Mary community, and his various activities, Welter said, showed “how a Catholic man can live with integrity in every aspect of his life.”
On the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus website it is stated: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Deacon Gil Bellavance passed away ... Our council lost a very faithful and dedicated Brother Knight and our parish lost a very dedicated parishioner. Rest in Peace Brother Gil. You will be missed by many.”