Georges Bériault: Friend, Activist, Teacher, Athlete (1947-2013)
Aside from Georges’ edgy wit and his questioning and incisive mind, I most admire his unbridled delight in creating mischief (with his students, friends, fellow ninjas and of course rightwingers of any stripe), his enormous heart and his constant fund of love and devotion for Joyce from the time they were high-school sweethearts. An epic kind of love.
Georges was a giant kindred spirit who I had the pleasure to work with in Baba Jacques Dass. A lively and generous man, with a flare for making us smile and laugh out loud…really loud:-). His eccentric sense of humour created much joy wherever he went, this special gift he shared with all throughout all these years. May you rest in peace dear Georges, and thank you for all you were and the legacy you left behind, we will all cherish the memories.
Sometime in 1986, Georges came into our lives. He did many things. He could draw. He could tell stories. He could act. He could stand tall and threatening when required against provocateurs (he was a practicing black-belt in karate –right to the end of his life) and he would smile embarrassed, at those who ribbed him playfully. He had little patience for silliness, verisimilitude and hypocrisy. He disliked affectation and loved those who knew how to come to the point fast. Georges first got involved with Serai through theater. In our first production at the Centaur Theater in Montreal, he played the lead role of Baba Jacques Dass (see Serai cover pic below) . He read history books with an unceasing enthusiasm and came back and told us what he had found out about wars, spy scandals, military logistics and the silly antics of many a revered world leader. Georges deconstructed everyone-from revolutionaries and fascists to his closest friends-laying it all bare. And Georges was there at every political march-be it against the aggressive wars launched by the United States and its many “coalitions”, St. Patrick’s day marches with the larger Irish community, leading a serious contingent of avowed Irish socialists, May Day Marches, pickets in support of the Palestinian people and many other causes. During the day he taught High School students, history and economics. If you want to know what a hero he was to his students, please go to
http://ca.ratemyteachers.com/george-beriault/57200-t/5#.UhzB_f9oE5Y.gmail Here you will find ALL 22 students, without exception, rating him as the greatest teacher, the funniest teacher, the best story teller-winding his way into the course material slowly and yet in the most entertaining manner. One student said “He is a revolutionary.” Personally, I have not seen an anonymous teacher rating that paralleled what George’s students felt about him. Georges always wore a James Connolly button, wherever he went-even if he had to meet government officials in a formal capacity as a representative of the friends of Sinn Fein in Montreal. Because Georges never hid his colors. He was discrete and yet clear as a whistle. Personally, I have a lost a very dear friend. Someone who took a great liking for my son and daughter in his own strange ways. Someone who understood the way the world is ruled by a minority and what the majority must do to overcome the situation. He was droll to the core. He took my daughter at the ripe age of four to the famous Diana Bar in Ste-Catherine street to have a beer and forever his humanity came flowing through his eyes, when he talked about the Inuit women, most of them toothless, marveling at my daughter, picking her up and hugging her. My daughter was also toothless for the most part. And he took my son, way past midnight, into a couche tard to pick up beer and took pictures of him, walking around in the aisles, as proof. That was the way he was. A humorist with great humanity, deep inside his heart.
A few days before he left us, I sat down by his hospital bed in emergency and he was recounting old stories, one after the other and he finally said “lets do another play, one last time.” The next day he had been moved to a room and I spoke to him on the phone and he was a bit distracted and did not feel like he could talk for too long. I said I would come by and see him. He passed away two days later.
Georges was a man of perfect contradictions: irreverent yet respectful; soft at heart yet strong in conviction; serious only when necessary, which thankfully wasn’t often as he could find the humour in any situation. He was a consummate teacher who will be intensely missed.
The memories of the time I spent with Georges and the Serai crew during long rehearsals and performance nights are etched in my mind. They have added meaning to my life, and have made it more significant.
He makes you feel like you’re really learning about the real world unlike those other teachers who have you thinking “When am I going to use this in real life?”
Student from Laval Liberty High School
Amazing prof! Had him for sec.5 ethics at laval liberty. He was truly an amazing teacher and an amazing person. R.I.P Mr. Beriault, you will truly be missed. However whatever you taught me will forever remain in my knowledge and I’ll apply it everyday.
Student from Laval Liberty High School
Georges was a character – serious and full of beans at the same time. While he was often joking, at his core he was a caring and thoughtful guy. He always had a book on the go, a karate class to attend or was organizing some event in support of some important cause. Beer and chips were never far away. The past few years have been tough and full of indignity for Georges, but he bore it with a quiet strength and fortitude – always seeking to get better and maintain his routines. I wish him peace where he has gone and a bar full friends where he can enjoy a good laugh and good conversation.