Canadian Underwriter

Camp Continuity

June 6, 2013  

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Last July, Olivier Bertrand and his father Michel spent a day together planting trees at Domaine Notre-Dame, a charitable children’s camp in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, Que. The Bertrand family and many others were volunteering their time to maximize construction of the playground and facilities with $45,000 from the Aviva Community Fund competition.

Olivier now recognizes that special time as symbolic of “the circle of life,” because his father, 66, passed away shortly after, on September 26, 2012. The new trees would replace the older ones; Olivier would take over from his father as owner of Courtiers Unis – Michel Bertrand & Associés in Québec, Que., and one of five shareholders of the banner Courtiers Unis in Québec; and the business would continue Michel’s almost 40-year commitment to sponsor Domaine Notre-Dame and ensure that all children, no matter their family’s income, would be able to attend the camp.

“When I heard about the Aviva Community Fund in September 2011, I saw it as a great opportunity and challenge to help the camp improve and grow,” says Olivier, who is also responsible for sponsorships for the camp’s annual fundraising golf tournament. “But, to be honest, it took much more time and energy than I had expected!

“At some point, we wondered if we should abandon it or continue,” he explains. “Our decision was made to continue…but with much more energy.”

A Facebook page was created for Domaine Notre-Dame’s hundreds of alumni and fans to contribute their most cherished memories of camp life. New stories, photos and even a poignant YouTube video were added daily, keeping the all-important “likes” and votes coming. The brokerage’s seven employees encouraged family, friends, clients and all 103 Courtiers Unis brokers in Quebec to participate.

The result of their efforts was a big financial boost to help the camp expand to accommodate the growing number of families in the suburbs of Quebec, including Ste-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier and Pont-Rouge.

“Le Domaine Notre-Dame was founded as an outdoor centre in 1950, and it became a registered charity in the ‘60s,” says Olivier. “From spring through fall, schools and other groups benefit from the camp’s mission to promote the principles of education, empowerment, encouragement and respect through outdoor classrooms and team play.

“We’ve been supporting this wonderful camp since my father established our brokerage in 1978. I am proud that he was able to participate and help us win the Aviva Community Fund challenge.”

The Bertrands, their large family and many friends also donated their time to complete the construction and field renovations in time for the 2012 season. Last summer, young day and overnight campers, ages 2 to 14, were greeted with a new community hall for large gatherings and theatre productions, kitchen facilities for culinary workshops, picnic tables, deck hockey surface, nature trails for horseback riding and hiking, and a water playground by the swimming pool.

Sadly, Michel Bertrand was unable to attend Domaine Notre-Dame’s official opening hosted by Aviva on September 13. “Before my father left us, he gave us this simple message,” says Olivier. “ ‘It’s your turn to build, share and have fun. Through doubts, stay upbeat and positive. Life is beautiful.’ ”

In lieu of flowers, Michel requested donations to his beloved camp.

“We are thankful to Aviva for helping us achieve our dream of improving Domaine Notre-Dame for all our children, including my two daughters and son,” adds Olivier. “That’s part of the circle of life, as well, as I have many happy memories of my time at camp as a child. Now it’s my kids’ turn to enjoy the achievements of our generation.”


Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the January 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.