Overwhelmed was the word Cindy Saucier used to describe how she felt when she saw a large group of family and friends gathered in front of the library to show their appreciation for everything she has done for the township.  Tinkess Photo

RUSSELL – When you have someone who has become an important part of a community, who contributes so much, and who is always willing to volunteer their time, it is difficult to see them leave. Such is the case for Russell resident Cindy Saucier, who for nearly 35 years has been a vital part of the community, but who is now relocating to the South Dundas area, because, as she said, the river was calling her.

You don’t just let someone like that leave without telling her in no uncertain terms just how much she meant, and how much her efforts have been appreciated. The community did just that on Thurs., Oct. 12, when they planted a tree and erected a small plaque in front of the library in her honour.

Connie Johnston, also known as The Trivia Queen, was the leader of a team of well-wishers who organized the celebration, and who also managed to keep what was happening a secret, right up to the point where Saucier’s car pulled up in front of the library and she saw a crowd of familiar friends and family gathered.

Her good friend Connie Johnston, who acted as master of ceremonies summed things up as she introduced the various speakers. “So, Cindy, we appreciate everything you’ve done for us so much. And I think this is on behalf of Russell Trivia.

We appreciate everything you’ve done for us. You’ve never missed a trivia; I think the only trivia you ever missed was Earth Day (Earth Hour) or something and we couldn’t do it with no hydro. I think you’ve made every other one of them and thank you so much for everything you’ve done for this community. It was a better place because of you, and Morrisburg is a better place because you’re in it now.”

If you didn’t know anything about Cindy Saucier and you just happened upon this group gathered in front of the library on a bright October evening, you would leave thinking that this person was one who cared about her community, who cared about the environment, and one who was willing to roll up her sleeves and jump into any situation, just because what needs to be done, needs to be done. You would learn that she had been a member of council, that she was passionate about what the South Nation River Conservation Authority tries to do every day, that she was a member of the library board, that she was a member of the Russell Horticultural Society, that she was loyal and supportive of her friends, and that she believed in the concept of being all in for anything she believed in because, well, why would you not?

One by one a long list of speakers took a few moments to laud Saucier’s efforts and to say thank you. There were members of council, councillors Lisa Deacon, Marc Lalonde, and Mike Tarnowski, (Mayor Pierre Leroux had a prior regular commitment), Alison McDonald, the managing director of approvals for South Nation Conservation, Brittany Roelofs, the head of communication for the library, and Jocelyn St. Pierre, widow of former mayor Jean-Paul St. Pierre, after whom the library was named. They spoke different words, but all with the same meaning: You’ve done so much, thank you.

Finally, the time came for the guest of honour to speak.

“Overwhelming, that’s the minimum I can say,” said Saucier, before recognizing the members of her family.

“Connie, I can’t believe you pulled this off. I’m just a bit overwhelmed. And you know, that’s exactly what I was thinking Jocelyn was I had the tree in front of JPS (Jean-Paul St. Pierre) name. So that means the world to me. I did admire him greatly, and he was one of the reasons that I went into politics in the first place. He kind of talked me into it, and I wasn’t drunk or anything. Somebody said, Cindy, I think you would be good, and you should pursue this and, and I will help you. You know, when everything ended so abruptly, I did lose the desire to continue. I took some time, I took two weeks off actually from the campaign, and just couldn’t get out there. And then finally I said, no, I’m going do this, because he asked me to, so I carried on and eight years later… it was a wonderful experience. And Mike, I thoroughly enjoyed working with you. He always made me laugh. And we always had a few inside jokes and chuckles at the table. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to work with Lisa. But I did encourage her to run also, because I felt somebody had to be a voice for the environment. I hope that carries on.

As people were breaking into their own groups and heading home there was a chance to ask Cindy Saucier about her plans. Is this a retirement, or should the people of South Dundas expect to see her helping to make the community better? “I don’t know,” she said, “Yeah, I haven’t, I haven’t decided though. It’s sort of semi-retirement, let’s say. We’ll see.”

Seeing as how she has already attended her first South Dundas Council meeting to hear a South Nation presentation, it probably isn’t a stretch to expect to hear more from her in the future, which is good. There is always room for more trees.