When I went to this organization, which is comfortably accommodated in a former school, now a municipal building in Beaupré, Natacha Battisti, the director, was in a meeting with a dozen other people from the community, governmental and para-governmental sectors to prepare a profile of social exclusion in the community. After excusing herself from the group, she accompanied me to the main floor, where the drop-in daycare centre is located, an activity funded partly by the FDG and often the gateway to all the resources available within the organization. (more…)
Since 1981, La Boussole has been helping the loved ones of people with mental illness. The organization serves the greater Québec City area with members from Val-Bélair, Beauport or even la Côte-de-Beaupré, for example. Originally a peer support group made up of care-giving close relatives who are short on resources and wanting to break the isolation, the organization has gradually expanded its services (more…)
Guide to the phenomenon of bullying
With its expertise and presence in seven Montreal neighbourhoods, Pact de rue has just published a guide on bullying. The street workers of this Montreal NPO, girls and boys, are well aware of the problems associated with this issue among both the aggressors and the aggressees. It was on the basis of this direct experience that they were able to deconstruct the phenomenon and, with the financial support of the Ministère de la Famille du Québec, produce a guide for all youth intervenors, particularly in the school setting. (more…)
In Mongolia, the Association of Parents with Disabled Children (APDC) has been implementing a Mentor Parents Program since 2010 with the financial support of FDG. APDC organizes training for mentor parents to improve their skills and knowledge about children rights, human dignity, legislation and policy changes, while participating in various social activities. The Mentor Parents focus on supporting families who need guidance for the well-being of disabled children, they provide comprehensive information about child disability, state welfare law to the parents and help parents (more…)
Early in the week at École Marguerite Bourgeois, where Le Petit Répit has its offices, all is calm as students and teachers end spring break with a PD day—allowing Anne-Lise Mercier to meet with me in the peace and quiet of an empty school. This family respite organization, which marked its 21st anniversary in November 2017, has stayed true to its founding ethos of accepting all respite requests and staying in direct contact with families to determine their needs. (more…)
In Baie St-Paul, the Forum Jeunesse youth centre has hosted a youth circus program since 2008. Cirque du Monde is a humanitarian project created by Cirque du Soleil. The program has persisted despite restructuring—and has even expanded to youth in the entire Charlevoix region, thanks to the vision and leadership of Claudine Fortin. She has been running Forum Jeunesse for 22 years. Activities were condensed into one evening instead of two, and part of the budget was used to provide transportation for kids from other youth centres affiliated with the project, so they could come join the Baie St-Paul group. (more…)
This is a story of perseverance and determination. Forced into having to move, the organization headed by Carole Longpré had find somewhere to relocate to. Located in the Montreal district of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, it was impossible to find suitable premises to rent for relocating operations. The Montreal School Board (MSC) would not renew the lease that was to end on June 30, 2017. (more…)
The girl who works the reception desk at the YMCA wears a very colourful hat that comes down over her eyes, but her smile dispels any possibly doubts about the warmth of her welcome. The reception area is noisy and animated with the comings and goings of women and the second-hand clothing store that opens onto the entrance of the freshly-renovated building. Halloween brings out some unexpected characters and many of them take delight in scooping a candy off the plate on the counter.
I wait for Chantal Gariépy, the Centre filles (GirlSpace) coordinator, who is going to explain to me this program that has been offered since 2008 in most YMCAs in Canada. It is a program where the structure and colour are adapted to local culture. In Quebec, the program stems from the idea of female leadership, but with Chantal’s arrival in 2011, this program which had been initially focused on prevention was restructured and its aim now is the collective mobilization of young girls aged 7 to 17.
The purpose of the activities is to highlight the strengths of girls and give them the tools to develop their ability to take action, their self-esteem, their critical thinking and leaderships as well as to adopt healthy lifestyle habits.
Although Centre filles makes use of YMCA facilities, the facilitators also go out into the sensitive neighbourhoods to meet with groups of girls in partnership with youth organizations that are already set up in communities and schools. The mobile Centre filles reaches an average of twelve groups every week. An agreement with OMHQ has opened the doors in three affordable housing sectors in the city. Elementary and secondary schools are also targeted in these neighbourhoods. They work with community organizations that are already established and working on specific issues: Motivaction Jeunesse to get girls moving and Pignon Bleu for group kitchens, just to name a few. While having fun, the girls choose among an array of topics and workshops, allowing them to address the issues they face: stereotypes, body image, healthy diet, healthy relationships, sexuality, etc. They learn to speak, take responsibility and get actively involved in their group and community. The multi-ethnic reality comes to the forefront sometimes and requires action to develop tolerance and a better understanding of others. The girls are on social media and use this means of communication a lot to highlight their concerns and their actions.
In the Creative Girls program that is offered at the YMCA, girls can enrol and engage in creative workshops after school during the week: exploration of rhythm and sound, the visual arts, theatre, dance and circus performance are also among the activities offered. Social diversity is promoted. Parents are asked to make a voluntary contribution to cover some of the costs. Ties have been established with other partners such as the Institut de Réadaptation et de Déficience Physique du Québec (IRDPQ) and the CIUSS notably, to help integrate young girls with various challenges and have them engage in the activities.
Centre filles has three full-time employees and nine part-time employees. The later are finishing up their undergraduate degree or embarking on a graduate program in social work, anthropology, sociology, etc. They are enthusiastic, like to use their training and creativity and they connect easily with the girls. Between 160 and 200 young girls are reached weekly by these programs.
One of the employees suggested that the facilitators use a special creative method in the courses offered. Using this method, the facilitators propose transversal group discussions, allowing various group to think on various issues using a common theme. The process culminates in the creation of a group work. The topic proposed this year is the park. All the girls make use of parks and find the subject compelling. However, they will all find different ways to express themselves.
Twice a year, the Centre filles facilitators and their guests organize Space for Girls, a large gathering that is open to girls 9-13 years of age and includes a special evening of fun activities. More specific challenges are dealt with through play.
The Girls Committee is in fact a committee composed of 15 members and its activities are supported in part by Heritage Canada via the YMCA of Canada and it promotes the involvement of girls in the arts and culture. The girls address current issues. They visit cultural spaces and meet inspiring women.
Lastly, there is the Kaléidoscope project, which came about through the joint willingness of Centre filles and the various partners through a specific agreement on the status of women and which worked to develop an inventory of youth books promoting an egalitarian world. The inventory is accessible online and continues to be updated by Centre filles.
In addition to its regular projects, Centre filles creates special DIY projects for girls who are going through major difficulties. Lastly, the project involves making decorative objects using recycled materials. A half-dozen girls greatly enjoy this manual activity and are developing a feeling of competence. Once set up, it is easier for the facilitators to initiate discussions on the problems these girls are experiencing and to look for possible solutions.
FDG has supported Centre filles at the Quebec City YMCA since its creation. In our view, it is indispensable that we offer these young girls every opportunity to carve out a space for themselves in society, to enable them to fully develop themselves and make them into active and engaged citizens. In this respect, we share the same objectives as the amazing team at Centre filles.
The old rectory that En Marge 12-17 occupies is imposing. Ste-Brigide-de-Kildare Church, right beside it, looks like the poor, or at least neglected, relation in comparison. However, that should change over the coming year because, after ten years of effort, a group of community organizations has managed to bring together the funding needed for renovating the spaces that will partly be used for youth activities. (more…)
The first day of real heat in Montreal aligns with the day of my visit to the offices of Bouffe-Action de Rosemont. The sun is warm and shining brightly. The leaves are coming out on the tree branches. A few flowers are blooming in the flowerbeds. A number of passers-by are wearing their warm-weather clothes and their sandals at nearby Lafond Park. (more…)