A tribute to Dr. Fortier’s life, as written by OTN Executive Director, Fred Whoriskey, on behalf of the entire Network:
The world turned poorer last weekend for the passing of Louis Fortier at a far too young age. I first met Louis as a fellow graduate student at l’Université Laval back in the early 1980s. There was always something different and a bit special about Louis. Where most of us worked our days in jeans and a t-shirt, Louis could and did show up in the graduate school dungeons from time to time in a three-piece suit looking like a million bucks. Louis’ vision and persistence changed Canadian and global science for the better. I don’t know that there is anyone else in the world that would learn of an aging and soon-to-be-retired ice breaker, and see in it an opportunity, hatching a plan to totally transform the way Arctic science was done. The refit of the RV Amunsden, and the launch of ArcticNet, catapulted Canada to the forefront of natural and social science research in a critically important geographic area at a critically important time. Louis cared deeply about our world. In particular, I remember a conversation we had while lost and wandering in a European city trying to find the Canadian Consulate for a reception we were scheduled to attend. Both of us were thinking in terms of what we could do to protect the world for our families and for all those who would come after us. Louis’ family meant the world to him, and it pains me to think of the grief they are living now. It also pains me to know he will not be here to continue the work towards the future he wanted and had worked so hard to ensure. We will miss you, and will think often of what you have done and the things you have taught us.
OTN Executive Director, Dr. Fred Whoriskey