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Greater Sudbury community gathers for Ward 2 Coun. Vagnini’s funeral

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Family and friends of the late Sudbury Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini along with members of the community he served gathered on Saturday at St. Pius X Church in the Greater Sudbury community of Lively for a traditional Roman Catholic funeral.

The church was at capacity for the March 2 mass, which was also attended by numerous emergency services personnel and local politicians – including several other city councillors, Mayor Paul Lefebvre and Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe.

The funeral featured an honour guard of firefighters that lined the entrance of the church before the ceremony began.

Vagnini was located deceased on Reserve Camp Road in Atikiameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation near the city on Feb. 13 at the age of 62 after being reported missing by family at the end of January and an extensive police and community search efforts.

Police said the councillor had died of “medical causes” following a post-mortem on Feb. 20, while his obituary states he passed “due to natural causes.”

Vagnini served on three terms on Greater Sudbury’s city council – he was acclaimed in one of the elections. Locals who attended the service said he will be remembered for his advocacy for Ward 2 – especially the community of Walden.

In Roman Catholic tradition, remarks were only delivered by Rev. Bob Bourgon. The officiant said he has known the family for many years and Vagnini since he was "in diapers."

Bourgon called Vagnini a "really, really good man" who "did what he thought was right, no matter what was going on" while remarking on his often sparkly and colourful clothing. The reverend said there was more going on behind the councillor’s flashiness – describing Vagnini as often insecure in the face of public criticism but always standing behind his faults or failings.

He said while people saw the councillor’s public persona, they did not always see the price he paid. Bourgon pointed out that many attendees at the funeral were also those who serve their community in the public spotlight and that politicians and emergency personnel may feel the same way – taken for granted or often misunderstood.

Vagnini’s obituary described him as a man "dedicated to making an impact on his community."

"This was demonstrated by his many leadership roles such as serving as chair and vice-chair on the Greater Sudbury Police Services Board, advocating for volunteer firefighter services, but most notably through a personal endeavour called ‘No One Eats Alone,'" reads the obituary.

"Michael was known for his advocacy. He championed forcefully for the Maison McCulloch Hospice and was instrumental in the expansion to provide more care to the local community. He devoted much of his life to meeting the individual needs of others as he would often personally take it upon himself to conduct snow removal by shovelling driveways and sidewalks, inspecting road concerns, or distributing meals on a Saturday night in downtown Sudbury."

His obituary called him a "beloved father, mentor and best friend to daughters Alison Vagnini and Erin Vagnini (Michael), and the proud Nonno to his beautiful granddaughter Adora." He is "deeply missed" by Leslie Vagnini, with whom he shared these two daughters and "lovingly missed" by his partner Janie Galipeau and her daughters Peyton and Paige.

Mayor Paul Lefebvre and city council have invited all residents of Greater Sudbury to sign a book of condolences for the family of the late Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini.

"On behalf of city council, my heart goes out to Michael’s partner, children, family and many friends, and to all those who have been helped in some way by him throughout his lifetime," Lefebvre said in a social media post on Feb. 14.

"His generosity and passion for his community were unmatched. He will be greatly missed."

Residents can sign the book of condolences until March 15 at the following locations:

  • Tom Davies Square – One Stop Services, 200 Brady St., Sudbury.
  • McClelland Community Centre and Arena, 37 Veterans Rd., Copper Cliff.
  • Lively Library and Citizen Service Centre, 15 Kin Dr., Lively.
  • T.M. Davies Community Centre and Arena, 325 Anderson Dr., Lively.

An online book of condolences is also available here for those who wish to send messages or submit photos.

A celebration of life for Vagnini will also take place at the T.M. Davies Community Centre on March 23 in the upstairs hall. The 'Michael’s Way' gathering will feature remarks from family and friends along with music.

Due to the limited seating in the arena hall, the celebration will also be livestreamed for any to be able to watch.

February was a difficult month for Greater Sudbury city council as Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier died at Health Sciences North on Feb. 21 at the age of 69 following a recent health issue. Montpellier’s funeral was held on Feb. 24 at Paroisse St. Joseph in Chelmsford. 

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