Gisèle Breau

Gisèle Breau shares what it meant for her to be awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for her work supporting families with a child on the autism spectrum.
Transcript + screen description

[Screen Description: Text on a grey background reads, “Canadian Honours, Gisèle Breau, Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division).” There is a viceregal lion above the text.]

[Screen Description: Several words characterizing honours recipients move across a black screen. The screen reads, “Canadian honours presented by the Governor General.”]

[Screen Description:  Gisèle Breau is sitting and speaking to the camera. The screen reads, “Gisèle Breau, Shippagan, New Brunswick, Recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal (civil Division).”]

[Gisèle Breau, in French:] How did Ottawa ever hear about me, Gisèle Breau, from the tiny town of Shippagan?

For me, it was totally unreal.

I graduated from university, as a social worker.

I was offered a job opportunity here in Shippagan as the director of the Foyer Le Gouvernail.

It's a resource for at-risk youth.

When someone's been tossed around from one foster home to another, then they come to us.

There was one young person that arrived at Le Gouvernail, it took us about 24 hours to realize that this young person was impaired with something we didn't understand.

At that time, I had no experience working with children with autism.

We had to find a solution, because that young person couldn't live with other youths who were dealing with their own completely different challenges.

So I proposed an idea to my board and to the other employees that we should create a home for kids who were on the autism spectrum.

I have a kid who needs us, and I can’t let him down, no matter his condition.

In 2009, the Maison TED was founded.

What children on the autism spectrum need the most are secure surroundings and a set routine.

We don't necessarily do a lot of individual therapy, it's about living as a family.

“Does it bring up good memories?”

[Jean-François, in French:] “Yeah.”

[Gisèle Breau, in French:] “Yeah. Do you want to see your old room?”

[Screen Description: Carole Noël Basque is sitting and speaking to the camera. The screen reads, “Carole Noël Basque, mother of Jean-François.” Short video clips play as she speaks, showing her son, Jean-François, walking with Gisèle Breau.]

[Carole Noël Basque, in French:] Jean-François is a kid who, particularly as a teenager, needed a lot of support.

We didn't always have the right tools to help him, but at the Maison TED, they treated him as one of their own and always took very good care of him.

[Screen Description: Throughout the video, the screen alternates between Gisèle Breau, Carole Noël Basque, Jean-François and a series of scenes of Mrs. Breau walking outside on a pier, working in her office and interacting with residents at Maison TED.]

[Gisèle Breau, in French:] It's not because you don't love your children anymore that you apply for placement.

It's because you're overwhelmed by the situation.

[Carole Noël Basque, in French:] When he was close to 19 years old, we brought him back home, and it's been going very well since then, because he was given so many good tools.

So now, he's much more responsible, he's much calmer.

[Gisèle Breau, in French:] Receiving the Meritorious Service Medal has had an impact because I subsequently received a lot of calls from people outside my area who didn't know there was a home for kids with autism spectrum disorder, and who were interested in the possibility of creating something similar in their area.

[Carole Noël Basque, in French:] Gisèle really was our lifeline.

And to this day, I haven't met another person so dedicated to the cause.

[Gisèle Breau, in French:] The person who nominated me, if I could speak to that person, I would say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

[Screen Description: Text on a grey background reads, “The Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division) recognize remarkable individuals who bring honour to our country through their exceptional deeds in many different fields.” There is a Meritorious Service Medal and Cross above the text.]

[Screen Description: A viceregal lion on a grey background.]