Franck Dupéré – A Life Well Lived
To those who knew him, Retired Corporal Franck Dupéré was a loving father, partner, son and friend, and, after he survived a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in 2011, he became an inspiration to many other ill and injured Veterans. Franck died on January 20, 2021, but his legend lives on and his final chapter is yet to be written.
Corporal Franck Dupéré, born in Sept-Îles, joined the army at the age of 17. He served as an infantry soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces for 17 years and participated in three missions abroad, in both Bosnia and Afghanistan. It was while serving as a member of a special psychological operations team during his second tour in Afghanistan that Corporal Dupéré was severely wounded by a suicide bomber positioned a mere six feet from where he was standing.
Although doctors were not initially optimistic about his recovery, his mental strength and relentless will to survive helped him through the many operations needed to recover. His positive outlook was evident throughout his recovery - despite the loss of an eye, he considered himself blessed that he could still see.
Franck refused to let his injuries define him – just one year after his near-fatal incident, Franck embarked on a 21-day, 150-kilometre expedition through the heart of the Himalayas to the Island Peak in Nepal. In 2016, he climbed Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, and through Soldier On, he also participated in the International Nijmegen March.
“Resilience is the first word that comes to mind,” says Franck’s partner Mariève Anderson when asked to describe her soulmate, Franck. “That’s what defined him as a person. That and his infectious smile. He had the biggest and brightest smile that could light up a room, and everyone who crossed his path was touched by him.”
Franck retired from the Forces in 2015 yet stayed active through various forms of volunteering. Giving back was a way for Franck to soldier-on. He became an instructor for the Canadian Armed Forces continuing education program and acted as a mentor for the Kenyan and Rwandan military through General Roméo Dallaire’s mission against the use of child soldiers.
“He had the biggest heart. He gave back as much and as often as he could,” says his partner, Mariève. “He was genuinely interested in people, in getting to know them and going out of his way to make others feel important. I always wondered how he could have such a positive outlook on life; but, as he once said, “I have one eye and that’s all I need to see.”
Franck is survived by many people who loved him – his partner Mariève, his two teenage children, parents and countless friends – and they are determined to ensure his legacy of resilience and inspiration lives on.
After his passing, Mariève’s employer, CAE, in alignment with their Corporate social responsibility policy, wished to contribute to an organization whose mission is to support veterans. After careful consideration, Franck’s family chose to honor his name through the Soldier On program. “Soldier On truly represents his core values,” says Mariève. “For him, it was all about inspiring others to go on, live life, even if you’re wounded. Just get up and do it.”
Franck enjoyed sharing his experiences on topics such as resilience, motivation, and self-development with other Veterans. It was also important for Franck to share his experiences with his two children, now aged 15 and 16. In 2018, he took them to Morocco to prevent them from developing Islamophobia as a result of the suicide attack on their father. “Franck was an exceptional dad, he truly was,” says Mariève. “He spent hours with them every day doing homework, helping them become the best they can be, and understanding life through his eyes - or his eye, as he would say.”
Mariève is determined to carry Franck’s spirit forward. “I try to focus on everything he has brought to my life versus everything I have lost and will miss. It’s not easy because he leaves such a huge hole in my life and in the lives of his children, parents and friends. A void that can’t be filled,” says Mariève. “It’s comforting to know that his last chapter has yet to be written. He will live on through everyone who loved him, but also through Soldier On. Franck will continue to inspire us all. It’s fitting that he is being recognized this way. I know he is looking down on us and saying, “you’ve got this.”