On October 8, André Chagnon passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family.
Marc-André, his grandson and the president of Lucilab, wished to pay him tribute and thank him for his important work in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease—a legacy to Quebec society that won’t soon be forgotten.
Beginning in 2014, I had the great fortune to work alongside my grandfather, André Chagnon. I was able to observe first-hand the motivations that led him to become one of Quebec’s greatest visionaries and philanthropists.
My grandfather, along with the rest of our family, suffered greatly as he watched his beloved Lucie, struck with Alzheimer’s disease, slip away one memory at a time, until she required assistance around the clock. This experience working as her caregiver had a major impact on his life and sparked a desire to find solutions. That’s when he got involved with the organization L’Appui pour les proches aidants.
Despite his age, his many accomplishments, and all the organizations he had already founded, André wasn’t ready to retire just yet. He had one major project left: developing and launching an Alzheimer’s disease prevention program in Quebec and the rest of Canada.
My grandfather invited me out for a meal one day to talk about mobile applications. The first rough outline of our project was jotted down on a napkin during a brainstorming session. I was 28 at the time, and my grandfather was 86. He told me about the rising rates of neurocognitive disorders and scientific breakthroughs in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. I shared my knowledge about technological advances in the world of digital marketing and mobile applications.
A few weeks after that dinner, my grandmother, Lucie, passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. After losing his partner, André wanted more than ever to make a tangible contribution to the prevention of neurocognitive disorders, which were becoming a growing societal issue. This is what led to the creation of our organization, Lucilab.
For several years, André, the team, and I built on these ideas, continued our research, brought researchers and specialists to the table, and refined our vision. Even though he was my grandfather, it was both inspiring and intimidating to work with a Quebec Inc. legend and to watch him work with such conviction, rigour, and strategic savvy. Our mission was to develop an affordable, widely available, science-based solution to help as many people as possible reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
In 2019, the idea of developing an app named after his wife and my grandmother, Lucie Chagnon, crystallized. The app would provide support to help users adopt healthy life habits known to have a protective effect on the brain, namely physical activity, healthy eating, and intellectual stimulation.
Three years later, we have already supported 650 people in their efforts to change their lifestyles. And this is just the beginning.
Today, I am truly humbled to hold the reins of my grandfather’s project. I will carry on his legacy with the dedicated Lucilab team to ensure that more Quebecers can age in good health.
To our readers, I invite you—in memory of my grandmother, Lucie, and my grandfather, who supported her through her illness—to join us on the path to a brain-healthy life.
The latest report from the Alzheimer Society of Canada confirms the demographic trends that André Chagnon feared in 2014, but I’m hopeful that, together, citizens and government can work to prevent neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, one lifestyle change at a time.
Thank you, Grandpa, for your generosity, vision, resolve, work ethic, and unflagging commitment to improving the world around you. You succeeded without question, and many of us will carry on your work with the sense of duty that you inspired in us.
Grandson of André Chagnon and President of Lucilab