Rarely is someone so dedicated to helping the disadvantaged. Since 1986, Gilles Kègle has devoted all his time to treating, comforting, and assisting the lonely and the poor, often until their last breath. This believer values love for one’s fellow human beings above all else. At Maison Gilles-Kègle, he leads a group of volunteers who share his mission.
An early call
Gilles Kègle’s great achievements inspire those he calls his “missionaries of peace,” the volunteers who help him fulfill his outreach mission. Kègle’s success is however the culmination of a tumultuous journey.
Born in Trois-Rivières in 1942, Gilles Kègle learned about helping other through his family, which worked for the Red Cross. His religious fervour manifested at a very young age. At age 19, he entered a monastery of the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament. But in 1966 he left to devote himself to the disadvantaged. His vocation was still fragile. He became a bookkeeper, a nursing assistant, then a volunteer in Trois-Rivières, Shawinigan, and Québec City. In 1986, with no family or work, he even contemplated suicide. But a compelling vision led him to the Saint-Roch Church where Father Fournier entrusted him with the care of four sick people.
It was by caring for those in need that Kègle got a new lease on life. In June 1986 a remarkable meeting took place. In the presence of Mother Theresa, who was visiting Québec City, he became convinced that he had to devote his life to helping those in need.
From that moment on, he was employed as a nurse and home healthcare attendant providing support to people full-time, that is, without ever taking a single day off. He worked for various organizations that asked him to fill out reports or grant applications—but he never had the time. He was too busy helping those in need.
In the 1990s the “street nurse” was increasingly recognized for his hard work, and it became easier for him to obtain the funds needed to fulfill his mission.
Through the Gilles-Kègle Foundation, created in 1996, he has been able to serve people in need: marginalized youth, the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics, prostitutes, the mentally ill, and sick and neglected elderly. As soon as he identifies someone in need, Kègle and his dozens of volunteers mobilize and come to their aid.
Maison Gilles-Kègle serves as their headquarters. Kègle and his team care for more than 1,500 people in Québec City. For several years, other volunteers have also been working in Montreal.
Gilles Kègle’s devotion has earned him admiration and he has been frequently recognized professionally. Since 1995 he has received the Charlotte-Tassé Award from Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers auxiliaires, the Order of Canada, the Ordre des psychologues du Québec Award, the Humanisme 2001 Award from Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec, and the title of Knight of the Order of the Pleiade. In addition, Ville de Québec awarded him its medal.