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…)
I met Andrea Clarke, the director of this bilingual organization (the French name is À Deux Mains) at their offices on Sherbrooke Street, while they were waiting to occupy their new location on Benny Street in NDG, which was awarded to them by the city of Montreal. They are scheduled to move to the old library this fall. This will allow them to coordinate a number of activities in a single location. The agreement with the city provides that the building is transferred to them free of charge (more…)
Although we say the Maison is for people aged 0 to 100, it is families with children under the age of 12 that make up most of our clientele. While it is inclusive and open to all, the Maison focuses on the most vulnerable families, who are directed to the multi-resource centre by teachers, school administrations or health and social services (more…)
On January 26, the Collectif des fondations arranged a study day to gain a better understanding of how inequalities arise in our societies and to compare the situation in Quebec with the limited data available, in Canada and elsewhere in the world, using OECD data. (more…)
On this grey Friday in October, the Domaine du Parc Savard housing complex on Bernatchez Avenue offers a little light with the bright yellow accents on its nearly new buildings. The Ressources Parents Vanier organization, established in 1995, moved into the ground floor in 2013 to rooms that were freshly renovated for its activities. (more…)