Above: ACFA Provincial President Jean Johnson, Andre Noel, and Mrs. Linda Groth at the presentation of the l’Ordre des Sage award Oct. 15. – ACFA Photo
by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
Volunteerism, awards, and hockey dominate in the Noel household.
I sat down for coffee with Andre and Pat Noel, and we spoke of her father’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and Andre’s many awards, just before he received an important provincial award from the Francophone community.
The 2016 Annual Congress of the Alberta’s Francophone community took place Oct. 14 and 15 in Edmonton and was the largest gathering of Franco-Albertans. ACFA President Jean Johnson launched the invitation for all to celebrate Alberta’s Francophone organization’s 90th-anniversary milestone.
The Oct. 15 Recognition Award Gala honoured the most vibrant members of the Franco- Albertan community with the prestigious Award of Excellence, Impact Awards and the names of the new inductees to the Elders of Alberta’s Francophone Community.
Recipients from the Alberta Centralta Region included Monique Lavallee for the Pierre Bergeron Award for her work with Youth, and Andre Noel, inducted to the l’Ordre des sages, which translates as Order of Elders or Order of the Wise. L’Ordre des sages inductions are held every two years and are recognition for those who have contributed to the Francophonie and valued by the regional ACFA and community organizations.
Noel has volunteered many years with ACFA Centralta and served as Treasurer from 2010 to 2012 and more than 12 years with the Centralta Tourism Society. He has worked with the North Central Heritage Trail and assisted in the creation of a tourist pamphlet featuring 12 museums in the local area.
He is also a Director of the Morinville Historical & Cultural Society and volunteers at the Musée Morinville Museum where he also provides bilingual translations.
Andre Noel was born in La Sarre Quebec in April of 1946, the son of Gabriel and Edwidge Noel. He grew up in Guy, Alberta with his four brothers and sisters and attended College St-Jean in Edmonton. Noel received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa.
Noel spent his entire career of more than 35 years working for Indian & Northern Affairs in St. Paul and Edmonton.
His first position after graduation in 1967 was in Edmonton and during that same period, he took his Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary Extension Services. Andre had a promotion to Manager of Social Development Programs for Eastern Bands and moved to St. Paul for six years.
“It is a beautiful Community,” Noel said of St. Paul.
After another promotion, he was back to Edmonton where he was Manager of the Edmonton District where he said his strengths were his organizational skills, financial work managing budgets, and overall team-work approach.
“People liked to work for me,” he said. “I was leader of a team. I liked to involve people. I am not the guy in front. I do not like to be the guy up front and be ‘Me. Me. Me.’ We are doing things together. I had budgets like $125 million in capital and $110 million in social development, and I was recognized for being a top manager in terms of staff because staff wanted to work for me because it was more of a team. [It was] always a team approach, and that was my strength.”
Noel received a Circle of Excellence Certificate from the Deputy Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs in 2001-2002 in recognition of his excellence as a member of the Cold Lake Special Claim Negotiation Team. He also received the Tribal Chiefs Institute Life Time Achievement Award in 2002 for his outstanding work that he provided to mankind and in particular to improving the lives of Aboriginal people of this country. He is also the very proud recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal released in 2002 to mark the 50th anniversary of Elizabeth II’s accession, awarded to nominees who contributed to public life.
When the Noels went to St. Paul with their then two small children, Steven and Michael, they both volunteered. He was the treasurer for the local minor hockey group and assistant from 1981 to 82. Pat also coached hockey.
They enjoyed the small community so much that when they transferred back to Edmonton, he didn’t want to live in the city. He enjoyed the small community of St. Paul and knowing the people at the store at the hockey rink. The couple moved to Morinville in 1986. They had looked at Beaumont and Morinville because they wanted a community where there was some Francophone.
Andre Noel started volunteering in Morinville the year they arrived, mostly because people get involved with their kids. He was coaching minor hockey for about 15 years and was on the Minor Hockley Board. He coached from 1986 to the 1996-97 season and was the scheduler for a few years. That was the worst position, Noel recalled. He did that for a couple of years and said nobody wanted the six o’clock morning practice.
“I was first mostly into hockey, then recreation activities at school but it was hockey because I had two boys in hockey,” Noel said. As the kids moved through the hockey system, he became a director for the Morinville Jets for about five to six years.
He retired in 2002 from Indian & Northern Affairs and became more involved with other volunteering opportunities. He started getting involved in saving the Notre Dame Convent along with Murray Knight. Raymonde Riopel had approached him and others because the Historical Society had folded and they had to do something as the town was planning to tear it down.
He has been with the museum and with the Historical Society to this day. Both Andre and Pat are members of the Rendez-Vous Centre.
In March of 2006, Andre Noel received a letter from Town of Morinville Manager Cathy Clarke and was invited to participate in a planning session for Centralta Tourism Society held in Legal to represent Morinville in English and French. At that time, the Society was forming a Board and Noel got hooked as a director. He is still an active member of the Centralta Tourism Society to this day.
Noel has been a member of the Alberta Canadian French Association, ACFA at least 35 to 40 years and Director for at least four terms. He is one of the Directors of the North Central Heritage Trail that promotes 12 museums in the area, and he represents the Centralta Tourism Society.
Pat and Andre met at his sister’s apartment in Edmonton in the 1970s. Pat was working in Edmonton for an architectural firm. Her boss owned the building she lived in at the time. Her father knew the people and felt safe in having her live there as he went back to Delisle. Pat and Andre started dating within a year and got married in Delisle, Saskatchewan in December of 1972.
Pat was doing volunteering in the background. In St. Paul when they had no one to coach the five-year-olds on the ice, she took over and taught the children basic hockey skills. She has volunteered for Heart and Cancer organization.
When the family moved to Morinville, she worked part-time and volunteered for the lunch program at the school until her Multiple Sclerosis got to be too much.
Above: Pat Noel with the comic book featuring her father and Uncle Max.
Pat Bentley was born in October of 1945 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and lived in Delisle, Saskatchewan, also known as “Home of the Bentleys.” She was the second of four children and the daughter of Doug Bentley who played in the NHL for the Chicago Black Hawks and New York Rangers. Doug Bentley was one of six hockey-playing brothers. His hockey career began at the age of 16 and spanned more than three decades. Bentley had 20-goal seasons six times during his NHL career and was named to the NHL All-Star team three times.
He was the National League scoring leader in 1942 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1964, and into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1967.
Pat Noel said her father went everywhere in his NHL career but always came back to Delisle to his family, relatives, and friends. Where her father went, she would follow, including doing kindergarten in Chicago, Grade 4 in New York, and Grade 11 in Los Angeles. The schooling years in between were in Delisle.
Afterward, she attended the Robertson Secretarial School in Saskatoon and worked for two years at a store in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was at the end of her fathers’ career when he was coaching in Edmonton and with the Edmonton Nuggets that she ended up in Edmonton and met her future husband, Andre.
In March 2014 Pat and Andre Noel went to Delisle Sask. where the memory of Doug and his brother Max Bentley was honoured with the unveiling of a Hockey Hall of Fame sign along Highway 7. Six decades later, they are still the two most famous NHL players from Saskatchewan and both are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Pat said she spoke at the event with Andre by her side.
Pat has some memorabilia of her father including a copy of a comic book with the Bentley brothers featured in it. Commemorative tickets from the 2010 World Junior Championships, hosted in Saskatchewan. Noel said the Dec. 29 date on the tickets is also her and Andre’s anniversary date and coincidence.
Above: Andre Noel with one of his many awards.
– Lucie Roy Photos