Generosity without frontiers

20 February 2018

Inspired by an experience, a memory or a life story, generosity can take many forms. It can transcend time and cross oceans, give meaning to an undertaking and contribute to the common good. And this is exactly what Claude Le Flem, a Belgian citizen who has lived in Quebec for almost 50 years, has just done with the support of Myriad Canada. Through the Madeleine Crab Fund, Mr Le Flem has set out not only to honour the memory of his mother, but also to provide support for youngsters at the Athénée Royal de Gembloux (Belgium) who wish to go on to further education, but lack the means to do so.

In homage to his mother


Claude Le Flem was marked by the early death of his mother. “Even though I was still quite young – only 15 – I remember how well-loved she was, by her own family of course, but also by her pupils and their parents.”


Trained as a nursery school teacher, Madeleine Crab spent most of her working life in various schools in Gembloux.


“When she died, a civic procession was organised with local authority leaders present. My mother was a public figure in Gembloux,” says Mr Le Flem “so this fund is a way of paying homage to her and honouring her memory”.


Studying, at all costs

Claude Le Flem himself attended the Athénée Royal de Gembloux and spent most of his childhood in the town, so it seemed natural to him to support young people there. His own story was a decisive influence. “I come from a humble background. My grandparents were manual workers and the little money they had was spent on care for my mother. I had a rather difficult time myself and this prevented me from going to university.” At least initially, because with determination and courage Mr Le Flem was eventually able to study languages at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Afterwards he emigrated to Canada where he continued his university studies and finally became a professor at the Université Laval (Quebec), and where he has stayed.

It is therefore to help young people who wish to study at university but lack the means to do so that the Madeleine Crab Fund has been created. “I remember my own vulnerability,” says Mr Le Flem, “and if I can help some youngsters in difficulty by enabling them to study, then I tell myself that my own experiences will have done some good.”

More than just financial support

With a budget of one million Canadian dollars, the Fund aims to provide grants for pupils in their final year at the Athénée Royal de Gembloux. Each student will be selected by a jury based on strict criteria, such as the family’s socio-economic profile and the student’s school results, motivation and personality. The Fund also has a mission of sustainability: the capital will remain untouched and only the interest will be taken out for use each year, so that over time, many more students can be helped.

The support provided, however, goes beyond financial help. “Giving money is good, but it’s not enough,” says Mr Flem. “The supervision provided by Myriad Canada seems to me to be essential if we are to maximise young people’s chances of success in their academic endeavours.” The support provided for the students may, therefore, take various forms, such as enabling them to take a language course during their holidays, helping them find an internship in a company, or putting them in touch with mentors working in fields that interest them.

Listening, confidence, advice

To fulfil such an undertaking, Mr Le Flem has been able to rely on the help and expertise of Myriad Canada. “Our job is to be at our donors’ sides, helping them achieve their ambitions and philanthropic wishes,” explains Benoît Fontaine, Director of Myriad Canada. “We therefore enable citizens (and organizations) based in Canada to support individuals or projects in Europe. We provide them with a legal and financial framework, content expertise and a vast international network and work capability. We develop a made-to-measure philanthropic approach that takes account of the particular wishes that have been expressed,” he adds.

Claude Le Flem finds an attentive ear at Myriad Canada. “We spent a lot of time discussing and sharing our experiences about what is involved in trying to help vulnerable young people and we worked together on developing the best way to implement his project,” says Benoît Fontaine. The relationship of trust that was established enabled the Madeleine Crab Fund to be set up extremely quickly – in just a few weeks – and to calmly determine how it would operate, even going as far as the composition of the jury that would select the students who would receive a grant.

“Without the help of Myriad Canada, I would never have been able to realize this project, which is so dear to me, and to ensure its future,” concludes Mr Le Flem.

The Athénée Royal de Gembloux symbolised this sentiment through the planting of a tree (a maple of course!) and by installing a commemorative plaque at the school (on Wednesday, 30 May 2018). A gesture of recognition for eternity.