Dedication ceremony held virtually to officially open Jonathan Pitre school in Riverside South
OTTAWA -- A dedication ceremony was held at a new French catholic elementary school in Riverside South, named after Ottawa's "Butterfly Boy."
The new Conseil des ecoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) school is named in memory of Jonathan Pitre, who died in April 2018 at the age of 17.
Pitre's mother, Tina Boileau, tells CTV News Ottawa, "It’s quite an honour for my family; to have your child’s name on a school, and seeing that all the kids at the school know about Jonathan, and this community has voted for the school name to be (named after) Jonathan."
Pitre spent his entire life battling a rare skin disorder called epidermolysis bullosa (EB) that caused his skin to blister. He found strength in his adversity and became a well-known figure in Ottawa and beyond. Pitre dedicated the last few years of his life to raising awareness about EB, bringing the rare, genetic disease into the public eye and helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the EB charity DEBRA Canada.
"I think it’s so important to keep raising the awareness, educating people," says Boileau.
His legacy will continue to raise awareness. TSN’s James Duthie has supported Pitre’s efforts for many years, "It shows how much he impacted not just everyone in Ottawa, but across the country."
Speaking with CTV News Ottawa, Duthie says having a school named after Jonathan is special.
"Schools are always named after our parents and grandparents, prime ministers, instead of the real heroes; and, for a boy like that to always be remembered is something that is truly remarkable," said Duthie.
Current and future students at the school will have an opportunity to learn about Pitre.
CECCE Superintendent of Education France Goulard says, "Everybody knew him; everybody that got to actually meet him, fell in love with him because he was such an inspiration."
The dedication ceremony streamed on YouTube included a tribute video to Pitre, with messages from current students. There were also messages from officials and politicians, as well as a tour of the school during the video ceremony.
Ecole elementaire catholique Jonathan Pitre is located on Ralph Hennessy Avenue in the growing community of Riverside South. Boileau had a chance to tour the school earlier in October, “So cute, it is a perfect grade school; I know that Jonathan would’ve been proud to see it.”
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Ted Raymond