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Anne-Marie Bourdouxhe, senior communications officer for the University Relations Office (URO), has retired after a 30-year career with McGill.
With so many years at McGill, Bourdouxhe knows more stories than can — or should — be printed here.
In many ways Bourdouxhe was the main link between McGill and the French-language media in Quebec. As a francophone at an anglo institution, she often found herself caught between two worlds.
"When I was a student at McGill other students were running after me to practice their French. When I started working, my colleagues would do so and I'd say, 'I'm not Berlitz.' That's why they took me for a separatist. To the other side I was the anglo — people from the Université de Montréal would say, 'You write well in French,'" she said.
Joe Zackon, a long-time colleague of Bourdouxhe's, said that he learned a lot from working with her.
"She has such a keen sense of the political, journalistic and public environments, especially in Quebec, and believes very strongly that McGill's stories should be known and understood in all of them. She also has a tremendous knowledge, often first-hand, about the people and events that have marked the university, dating from when she studied here in the '60s, and that kind of corporate knowledge is as invaluable as it is rare in the work we do," he said.
Associate Vice-Principal (Communication) Jennifer Robinson said that Bourdouxhe's departure is a loss for the university.
"Anne-Marie brings such enthusiasm and spirit to everything she does. She is irreplaceable and the university communications office won't be the same without her."
As a communications officer, Bourdouxhe noticed the differences in priorities between French and English media.
"There's always been a gap. Sometimes there was a huge scandal in English, but nothing in French," she said.
Bourdouxhe's roots extend far beyond McGill. Her father, Gérard Pelletier, was one of the "three wise men" of Quebec politics and the founder of Cité Libre. That magazine's second incarnation in the '90s saw Bourdouxhe as the editor, from 1991 to 1995.
It was her father who suggested Bourdouxhe study at McGill, if only to better understand anglophone culture. But it was her mother who first noticed the inadvertent effect he had.
"We were discussing the name of McGill College and she called it 'La rue du college,' and I said, 'Nous l'avons appelée comme ça.' She looked at me and said, 'You said "nous," when you were speaking of McGill!'"