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Fortin awards Chris Judd Medal of the National Assembly

by Sophie Kuijper Dickson
Clarendon
Apr. 26, 2024
On Friday morning, Jeannie Judd recommended her husband Chris Judd take a shower. This was not out of the ordinary for Chris, who had worked as a dairy farmer in Clarendon his entire life and so was used to polite requests that he wash up. He did not make much of it.
But for Jeannie, it was one of the last responsibilities she had towards a secret she had been keeping from him for over a week.
That morning, Chris was to be awarded a Medal of the National Assembly by Pontiac MNA André Fortin for his decades of community leadership in the Pontiac and advocacy work for farmers across the region. And Jeannie wanted to be sure he looked sharp.
So, showered and camera-ready, and Chris unsuspecting, the Judds made their way to the Little Red Wagon Winery where their three children, Keena, Robin and Scott, many of their grandchildren, along with local mayors, media and MNA André Fortin had gathered to honour the dairy farmer.
Upon the Judds’ arrival, Fortin revealed why he had invited the small crowd to gather that morning.
“A few weeks ago I celebrated my tenth year as representative for this region, and we were starting to think about ways of celebrating that,” Fortin opened.
“We decided instead of honouring 10 years of doing something, we would honour 10 people across the Pontiac who themselves have made a tremendous contribution to this region and the first person we chose to celebrate and honour is Chris Judd.”
Fortin then presented Chris with the Medal of the National Assembly, which in his 10 years as representative for the Pontiac he has only awarded to five other people. Clarendon mayor Edward Walsh and Shawville mayor Bill McCleary then each offered their congratulations.

“I didn’t expect that at all,” Chris Judd told THE EQUITY, humble words from a man whose resumé as a community leader includes stints as president of both the Pontiac chapter of the UPA, the Quebec farmers’ union, and of the Quebec Farmers Association, as well as municipal councillor for the town of Shawville.
Chris said the accomplishment of which he is most proud is not something he achieved by way of a recognized position of influence on a board, with the union, or on municipal council.
“One of the most important things I’ve done in life is teach kids how to square dance. Those kids are all still here in the community, they never left,” he said, emphasizing this was important because through it he believes he taught the kids how to have fun.
“It’s very important to learn to have fun, because if you don’t have fun, you’re going to leave, and go somewhere else where there is fun.”
A quiet leadership
Several of the Judds’ kids reflected on what it was like to grow up with Chris as a father.
Robin Judd remembered frequent trips to Quebec City with his father for the various meetings of the UPA or the Quebec Farmers’ Association or to protest a government policy decision.
“He’s spent a lot of the time on the hill lobbying for farmers’ rights,” said Robin, noting his father’s advocacy and community-building work also extended well beyond board meetings and rallies on Parliament Hill.
“We never went on a vacation where he didn’t stop in at at least two farms to learn from them and see what they’re looking for, and what they need, and to better our own farm and also better the farming in Quebec.”
Chris and Jeannie’s daughter Keena reflected on how her father would lead people back home on the farm.
“Dad’s way of teaching was he would give you instructions and then ask you to figure it out,” Keena said, describing what she considered to be a very trusting approach to sharing information. “He wouldn’t go out and show you exactly how to do it.”
This leadership style is also one Fortin has noted in his 10 years of consulting with Chris on matters concerning the community.
“There’s a quiet, unassuming leadership to Chris Judd. He will tell you a story. He has a message in the story, and doesn’t always tell you what it is but it leads you to reflect and think about issues and think about the community you want, the world you want, and your role in it,” Fortin told THE EQUITY.
“It’s not preachy. It leads you to make your own conclusions, but he gets you to think about stuff.”
Chris’s leadership has been noted well beyond the boundaries of the Pontiac region.
Jennifer Hayes was Canada’s first woman appointed as chair of the Canadian Dairy Commission. A beef and dairy farmer from Gaspésie, she has spent years working with Judd on various agricultural boards.
In a conversation with THE EQUITY some years ago, she told the story of a moment at a union meeting around the time of Quebec’s referendum when there was pressure being put on the union to arrive at a position on the province’s separation from the rest of the country. As Hayes remembered it, instead of doing the typical ‘hands shown all in favour,’ the union leaders invited members to stand up if they were not in agreement with a proposed position. She said Judd was one of two people in the room who stood.
“That would have taken amazing courage and conviction,” Hayes said. “He had his beliefs and opinion on matters, and he was never shy to put that on the table, but he wouldn’t beat you over the head with it.”
Fortin said whenever he travels elsewhere in the province and mentions that he represents the Pontiac, he almost always hears from somebody who knows Chris Judd by name, and speaks highly of him.
“To me Chris Judd represents a lot of what the Pontiac is about. It’s hard work, it’s passing on our traditions, it’s the value of entrepreneurship, it’s farming, and it’s the value of family,” Fortin said.
“To be able to honour him in the presence of people who know just how much he’s done for this region is a great way to kick off this 10-medal process.”

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