Network News April 2017

President’s Message

By Jim Shea
QCGN President

As winter turns to spring, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) has been keeping busy. In March, we held a major conference on the integration of newcomers in Quebec’s English-speaking communities as well as the wrap up of our three-year Young Quebecers Leading the Way project. April promises to be just as busy as we distribute our annual survey of priorities and head into the nominations period for the renewal of our board of directors.

Toasting French at French Toast

Earlier this week I was pleased to represent QCGN at the Canadian Parents for French (CPF) French Toast on Parliament Hill to highlight the excellence of bilingual youth across the country as well as celebrate Canada 150. Hosted by Hull Aylmer MP Greg Fergus, the event provided an opportunity to hear from French Second Language (FSL) advocates including the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly and other MPs, Senators, representatives from Canadian Heritage and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages as well as key CPF partners and stakeholders. Minister Joly saluted the champions of French second-language learning and commented on the importance of FSL education not only as a benefit to youth but also in fostering national unity. The CPF Network featured two of its successful projects – French for Life outreach campaign and the Where Are They Now? video series – which helped in the promotion and advancement of linguistic duality throughout Canada. It was great to chat with the Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages Sean Casey, his predecessor Randy Boissonnault and my MP, Greg Fergus.

Access to Justice in Both Official Languages

The QCGN also presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages this week for the committee’s study on the Full Implementation of the Official Languages Act in the Canadian Justice System. Accompanied by Michael Bergman of the new Association of English-speaking Jurists of Quebec, QCGN expressed support for a Supreme Court of Canada appointment process that is transparent, inclusive, and accountable to Canadians. We stated there must be a systemic capacity for justices to hear cases and render decisions in both official languages and that the language skills of judges must be sufficient to ensure the evolution of Canadian law. QCGN has three main principles regarding access to justice:

  1. Possessing rights, and having a bilingual judiciary is of limited value if the infrastructure surrounding access to justice is not able to operate to provide services in both languages;
  2. We need a shared working definition for access to justice – especially when discussing and developing evidenced-based public policy; and;
  3. We need stable funding from Justice Canada to help develop the association.

QCGN AGM to be Held on June 15-16

At a recent meeting the QCGN’s board of directors set the date for the 22nd annual meeting of the Quebec Community Groups Network for mid-June. The convention will kick off Thursday June 15 with professional development sessions for the staff and boards of our organizations and stakeholders. Using a speed dating format, the afternoon will allow participants to meet with representatives of various federal departments and agencies to discuss opportunities for funding and support. On Friday June 16, we will reconvene for a series of policy discussions on issues of importance to Quebec’s English-speaking communities, including recent Statistics Canada population projections and their impact on our community and Treasury Board’s current regulatory review of Official Languages regulations (Communications with and Services to the Public). After lunch, we will get down to the business of the Network during the annual general meeting. The convention and annual general meeting will be held in Montreal at Le Nouvel Hotel. Final details of the program will be posted, as they become available, on the QCGN convention microsite where you can also register now to take advantage of early bird rates.

11 Projects Shortlisted for Community Innovation Fund

The independent selection committee for the Community Innovation Fund (CIF) met in mid-March and has come up with a shortlist of organizations that were invited to submit a full application. The selection committee, chaired by Grace Hogg, coordinator of the George Hogg Family Foundation, has shortlisted 11 projects that improve employability or basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors/caregivers, and/or newcomers. Financed by the Government of Canada through the Social Partnership Initiative in Official Language Minority Communities, and managed by the QCGN, the fund is a new resource to put social innovation in action. Between April 2017 and March 2019, the fund will invest $1 million in social initiatives while building partnerships to increase funds that will be injected into the community. The CIF also has some new faces. The final application and initial funding process will be managed by Beverly Caplan, who will be ably assisted by Jordan Black in the coming months. Caplan is the former regional manager at Canadian Heritage and one of her main functions was to manage project and program funding for the department. As such, she has the expertise to move this phase of the project forward. Black, an MBA student at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management with a concentration in finance and strategy, will be doing an internship at the QCGN this summer. The project is moving ahead on schedule and we look forward to working with them to make our innovative shortlisted projects get started on the right foot and progress to the benefit of our vulnerable youth, seniors and newcomers and Quebec’s English-speaking communities.

THE 7 KEYS TO CRACKING THE QUEBEC CODE

The QCGN is organizing a conference on Cracking the Quebec Code, the book written by pollster Jean-Marc Léger, marketing professor Jacques Nantel and journalist Pierre Duhamel.

Produced by Léger Research Intelligence Group, the study draws on extensive data to reveal who we are. Part social study, part marketing manual, this book unveils the character of Quebecers, both French and English-speaking. It finds differences between them, and similarities too. English-speaking Quebecers are hybrids, with attitudes a mix of English-Canadian and Québécois-francophone.

Presented by Léger Group Vice-President Christian Bourque, our conference entitled Cracking the Quebec Code: Understanding French-speaking Quebecers and English-speaking Hybrids will give participants insights into our likes and dislikes, hot buttons and soft spots.

Hosted by the QCGN and The Montreal Gazette, the event is presented in partnership with the Fondation Notre Home Foundation, the Association for Canadian Studies, the Quebec English-speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN) and the Thomas More Institute.

The conference will take place on Thursday, April 20 at The Montreal Gazette (1010 Ste-Catherine St. W.) This is a free event open to all of our members and stakeholders, but you must register online.

ANNUAL SURVEY ON PRIORITIES

Every year in April the QCGN distributes the Strategic Priorities Forum survey to community groups that provide services to English-speaking Quebecers across the province. The goal of exercise is to gather a list of annual priorities and share them with funders and stakeholders. The task for overseeing this process is undertaken by the QCGN’s Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC) which monitors the six overarching common priorities for building community vitality as identified by more than 150 representatives of community sector organizations from across all regions and all sectors of English-speaking Quebec during the Community Priority Setting Conference in March 2012.

At that meeting, participants wrote a declaration of community priorities to ensure a more vital and sustainable future. The six priorities, which remain unchanged, are:

  1. Access to services in English;
  2. Community building;
  3. Economic prosperity;
  4. Identity and renewal;
  5. Leadership and representation; and
  6. Strong institutions

The survey, which is based on the declaration, asks about the annual program and project priorities of community stakeholders and QCGN members. It also looks at how organizations are linking to the priorities established by the English-speaking community and what projects they are working on. The QCGN uses the overarching and annual priorities of the community when advocating for policies and programs that will help us achieve a vital and sustainable community.

The Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) is committed to using the priorities gathered during this process when analyzing project funding applications and making recommendations on funding allocations to the minister. As always, we strongly encourage groups to align with the annual priorities in their program and project applications to PCH and other government departments, ministries, and other funding partners. The QCGN, its members and stakeholders also employ these priorities to identify development opportunities as well as interdepartmental and intradepartmental initiatives and to engage in discussion with different levels of government and in the broader community.

If you are a representative of a community group and you would like more information or to complete the survey contact the QCGN at info@qcgn.ca.

QCGN IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN AND WOMEN

Are you someone, or do you know someone, who is devoted to the vitality of the English-speaking community? Do you or they support the vision and mission of the Quebec Community Groups Network? Are you willing to help us achieve our goals?

We are seeking talented and engaged community leaders who are willing to stand for election for its board of directors in 2017. There will be nine vacancies this year including the position of treasurer. A couple of directors are at the end of their term limits so the QCGN will be saying goodbye to Irene Tschernomor and Cheryl Gosselin. Six other director seats will be up for election or re-election.

Nominations for the board of directors are overseen by the QCGN Nominating Committee, whose members were appointed by the membership during the annual general meeting in June 2016. All member organizations, regardless of category, are invited to nominate qualified individuals to the board of directors.

“The board of directors works as a team to guide the QCGN and community with leadership and vision,” said Carole Mackaay, chair of the Nominating Committee. “They provide oversight on the management of the corporation’s affairs and act as ambassadors for the QCGN and the English-speaking community of Quebec.”

Board members are required to participate in regular meetings of the board of directors usually six per year, two of which are face-to-face — and serve on one or more committees in their areas of interest and expertise.

Additionally, board members are expected to remain up to date on public policy issues affecting Quebec’s English-speaking community; remain in contact with member organizations; attend annual general meetings (usually held the second weekend in June); and participate in major QCGN functions including the Goldbloom Awards (held in October).

Mackaay said the Nominating Committee is seeking to create an engaged board of directors that is representative of the Network and balanced in terms of gender and age. It also seeks to include regional and sectoral representation (e.g. health and social services; education; economic development; justice; arts, culture and heritage; etc.). QCGN board members are elected to serve two-year terms and may be re-elected for a maximum of three consecutive terms (six years).

Directors make a commitment to volunteer an average of 10 hours per month to serve on the QCGN board. Corporate officers with additional responsibilities — that is the president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary — are expected to commit an additional five hours per month as a result of additional responsibilities. All directors are expected to be adept at communicating electronically, including through social media.

The Nominating Committee will consider all nominations properly received, and will provide QCGN Members with a report, and a slate of recommended candidates for the available vacancies, no later than 5 p.m. May 5, 2017.

Should you have any questions please contact QCGN’s Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge 514-868-9044 ext. 225 or sylvia.martin-laforge@qcgn.ca

SUMMER YOUTH LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE AT BISHOP’S

Do you know any young up and coming leaders that want to make their future here in Quebec? Encourage them to participate in the Bishop’s Forum – a week-long youth leadership institute that will take place in the Eastern Townships this summer.

From August 13 to 18, 2017, dozens of English-speaking youth between the ages of 18 and 24 will converge on the campus of Bishop’s University for a week-long immersion into Quebec’s society. The youth will have an opportunity to meet Quebec’s movers and shakers, learn about how the province works and make connections that will last a lifetime.

“The Bishop’s Forum wants to make Quebec better by equipping young English-speaking Quebecers with the ideas, networks, and tools to lead change,” said the Forum’s director James Hughes. “We’re designing the Forum in an engaging and innovative way to help young people put their talents, including their leadership skills, to work to further their own careers and the quality of life in the province.”

“Quebec benefits when its younger citizens are informed and knowledgeable about how its major institutions and systems function,” commented Michael Goldbloom, the principal of Bishop’s University which is hosting the youth leadership institute. “Our goal is to enhance young English-speaking Quebecers’ capacity for and interest in civic engagement.”

This opportunity is supported by the Quebec government as part of its Stratégie d’action jeunesse 2016-2021. A cross section of Quebec’s institutional and organizational leaders will be involved in the program.

The Bishop’s Forum will provide participants an “inside look” at some of Quebec’s fundamental institutions. “Participants will get insight into how the National Assembly, political parties, business, community, not-for-profit organizations and the media influence public discourse and public policy,” Goldbloom said. “The Forum will give participants not only a sense of what it is like to work in these major sectors but also how to influence change.”

As well as meeting and engaging with high profile political, business and community leaders, participants will work in small groups throughout the week to identify a key change they want to affect in Quebec society and craft both the case for support and the road map to transformation. These efforts will culminate in a presentation by each group to a mock Parliamentary Commission made up of a blue-ribbon panel of Quebec changemakers.

The program is in part a result of the QCGN and members participating in the provincial consultation on Quebec’s 15-year youth policy.

“Thanks in large part to those efforts, the government recognized that Quebec’s English speakers need specific policies and programs. One positive result is that the government is funding the youth leadership institute at Bishop’s University,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge

The application deadline for the Forum is May 5. Participation in the forum is free of charge. Travel, residence, meals, program content and evening events are included. The Bishop’s Forum has also created a small discretionary fund to help successful applicants who might not otherwise be able to participate in the conference due to financial need. For information, please contact Denise Lauzière at denise.lauziere@ubishops.ca.

YOUNG QUEBECERS LEADING THE WAY   

The final Young Quebecers Leading the Way forum took place from March 10 to 12 in the National Capital region as five dozen youth from the Gaspésie, Abitibi, Quebec City, Montreal and the Eastern Townships converged in Gatineau/Ottawa for the weekend.

On March 11, youth from various regions of the province were joined by Outaouais area delegates for the opening ceremonies where keynote speaker Désirée McGraw, who has devoted much of her life engaging and empowering a new generation of leaders to tackle global problems, gave an engaging speech.

“There is no magic formula for becoming a leader and no appropriate age at which you are suddenly recognized as a changemaker,” McGraw told youth, adding that each one of them must trace their own path. “It is important to note that all paths have their share of obstacles, curves, unexpected intersections and false shortcuts.”

Young Quebecers Leading the Way is a three-year project launched by the Quebec Community Groups Network to include young Quebecers in the lead up to Canada’s sesquicentennial.

The final forum, emceed by CBC reporter Marika Wheeler, was launched by councillor Mireille Apollon, who said a few words on behalf of the city of Gatineau, and Hull-Aylmer MP Greg Fergus, who spoke on behalf of Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage which funded the project.

Following the opening ceremony, participants had the opportunity to meet and talk with some prominent politicians and eminent experts including NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and CBC journalist Nick Gamache (Politics and Democracy); Native leader Romeo Saganash and indigenous columnist Jenn Jefferys (Indigenous Peoples); Canadian Press Ottawa Bureau Chief Heather Scoffield and Global Affairs Canada advisor Marcy Grossman (Economy); former ambassador Todd Kuiack and journalist Christopher Neal (Canada in the World); NDP youth critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach and Roma activist Dafina Savic (Canadian Identity); as well as National Observer managing editor Mike De Souza and student leader Élyse Tremblay-Longchamps (Environment and Social Issues).

The next morning, participants reconvened and split into six groups to draft youth declarations stating their views on the future of Canada based on the six themes discussed throughout the weekend and preparatory regional workshops before the forum.

The high point of the weekend was the presentation of the declarations on Parliament Hill. There was a lot of excitement in the air, given that they were in such a symbolic place.

Welcoming youths to Parliament were Pontiac MP William Amos, whose office helped organize our visit to the Hill, as well as Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Youth Secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Everything that you spoke of today are ideas that are discussed here (in the House of Commons),” said Schiefke, who commented on the declarations. Following an inspiring speech on civic youth engagement, Schiefke surprised everyone by inviting us to take our group picture in the House of Commons.

“The QCGN was inspired by the quality of our young participants and what they presented,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. “This weekend proved to us that our young Quebecers are indeed leading the way!”

Martin-Laforge said the QCGN joins with youth participants in extending a special thank you to our six regional coordinators: Anthony Beer, Kelly Lacroix, Alice Lam, Guillaume Lévesque, Olivier Mutegetsi, and Citlalli Zepeda who did a great job at mobilizing the participants before, during and after the forum. “On behalf of all of our youth participants, the QCGN would also like to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Youth Take Charge which funded our program, as well as our project partners the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM) and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS).”

The QCGN would like to thank this year’s sponsors including Via Rail Canada, CBC Quebec, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda, the Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA), the Morrin Centre, Carleton University, Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), Tourisme Outaouais, Blue Metropolis, Staples, The National Observer, The Montreal Gazette, and Canadian Parents for French.

Finally, QCGN would like to thank all the MPs and MNAs who contributed financially to our forum including William Amos, Frank Baylis, David Birnbaum, Marc Carrière, Jacques Chagnon, Anju Dhillon, André Fortin, Marc Garneau, Maryse Gaudreault, Anthony Housefather, Angelo Iacono, Alexandre Iracà, Mélanie Joly, Geoffrey Kelley, David Lametti, Alexandra Mendès, Marc Miller, Pablo Rodriguez, Francis Scarpaleggia, Peter Schiefke, and Kathleen Weil.


QCGN SEEKS NOMINATIONS FOR 2017 COMMUNITY AWARDS

The Quebec Community Groups Network is welcoming nominations for the 2017 Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award and the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

“These awards are designed to honor individuals, young and old, who have made significant contributions to Quebec’s English-speaking community,” said QCGN board member James Hughes, a winner of a Goldbloom Award in 2015, noting these are the only provincial level awards that reward individuals who have contributed to the vitality of English-speaking Quebec.

Goldbloom Awards

QCGN established the Goldbloom Award, which recognizes individuals who have contributed to strengthening the English-speaking community and to building bridges between Quebecers of different backgrounds, in 2009 to celebrate individuals who, like Dr. and Mrs. Goldbloom, dedicated their lives to ensuring English-speaking Quebec remains a vibrant community within Quebec and Canada.

Candidates for the Goldbloom award must have demonstrated leadership and commitment as a volunteer or as a professional in their chosen field of endeavour. Their contributions can be in any and all regions of Quebec, and in any field from business to academia; from youth to seniors; from health and social services to arts and culture; and any other area such as heritage, the environment, and sports. The guiding principle is that these individuals have provided strong and effective leadership and succeeded in improving the quality life of English-speaking Quebecers and the broader society.

Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award

The Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award was established in 2015 by Quebec Community Groups Network, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of young English-speaking Quebecers who are engaged in innovative initiatives that create change in our communities.

For this award, leadership is defined broadly and not limited to leaders of specific organizations and projects. The main objective of the award is to celebrate the leadership and innovative thinking of engaged young English-speaking Quebecers. Nominations must come from organizations and institutions that serve Quebec’s English-speaking minority community.

To be eligible for a Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award, candidates must be under the age of 30 and have demonstrated outstanding leadership and contributed to an initiative with measurable impact in their community.

Recipients of the Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award and the Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award will be invited to receive their awards at a community recognition ceremony in October.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND THE INTEGRATION OF ENGLISH-SPEAKING NEWCOMERS IN QUEBEC

By Rita Legault
Quebec Community Groups Network

On March 15, 2017, the Quebec Community Groups Network held a successful one-day conference on community engagement and the integration of immigrants, refugees, and migrants into Quebec’s English-speaking community.

Even Mother Nature could not stop theenthusiasm for our first major conference entitled Community Engagement and the Integration of English-speaking Newcomers in Quebec. Despite the biggest snowstorm of the season, dozens of participants braved the weather to participate in the conference which gave us an opportunity to not only tell, but to show our government partners how we are successfully integrating newcomers into Quebec. Read coverage in The Montreal Gazette.

This important discussion on how immigrants, refugees and migrants integrate into Quebec society through our English-speaking communities and institutions is a precursor to the work the QCGN is undertaking with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which sponsored the conference.

“We heard how our language and our community act as an important bridge to ensure immigrants who speak a wide variety of languages – and a little bit of English – can successfully integrate Quebec and, as some pointed out, be included as contributing members to society,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, Director General of the QCGN.

The bonus is that successful integration of English-speaking newcomers – immigrants, refugees and migrants from other provinces – will bolster the vitality of our community.

“Over the coming months, we aim to work with IRCC to find innovative ways the department can develop policies, programs, and collaborative initiatives to help foster the vitality of our English-speaking minority communities through the successful integration of newcomers,” said Martin-Laforge. “We also plan to work with them on interdepartmental and intergovernmental initiatives that involve other partners, including our provincial government.”

Following the success of last week’s event, we hope to host an annual “newcomer” event for and about English-speaking communities where our not-for-profit organizations, service providers, and government representatives can get together to reflect on the important role that newcomers play in defining our communities and our society as well as the wide-ranging policy challenges and opportunities that arise from integration and ethnocultural diversity. Stay tuned for more on this file.

Official Minority Community Groups Share Best Practices

QCGN’s immigration and integration conference occurred on the eve of the National Metropolis Conference, a major annual event that brings together hundreds of researchers, policy makers, representatives from community and settlement organizations to share and exchange knowledge and experience in the field of immigration and settlement.

Organized by the  Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, the 19th annual conference in Montreal, which coincided with Montreal’s 375th and Canada’s 150th anniversary, was the biggest ever.

Among the dozens of workshops and conferences was a bilingual roundtable on Immigration and Community Engagement in Official Language Minority Communities which brought together representatives from Quebec’s English-speaking community and French-speaking communities from the rest of Canada, including QCGN’s national sister organization the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA).

Much of the roundtable discussion by our francophone counterparts centered around the Réseau de soutien à l’immigration, which fosters immigration to Francophone minority communities and is funded by Canadian Heritage through the Interdepartmental Partnership with Official Language Communities (IPOLC).

The French-language immigration network aims to maintain the demographic weight of Francophone communities at a minimal level of 4.4 per cent; to improve the capacity of Francophone minority communities to receive French-speaking newcomers and to strengthen their reception and settlement infrastructures; to ensure the economic integration of French-speaking immigrants into Canadian society and into Francophone minority communities in particular; to ensure the social and cultural integration of French-speaking immigrants into Canadian society and into Francophone minority communities; and to foster the regionalization of Francophone immigration.

“The issues from one minority community to another are very similar, but our challenges here in Quebec are very different,” commented Martin-Laforge, explaining that in Quebec, federal powers are devolved to the province and official efforts to attract immigration are mainly limited to French speakers. “That means the QCGN has to tread delicately as we attempt to influence changes to federal and provincial policy and funding programs.”

Preventing Brain Drain from Quebec

Immigration was certainly a hot topic in mid-March – even outside of the Metropolis convention. As discussion and debates were lively at the conference,  Le Devoir reported how 1,300 immigrants abandon their careers each year due to frustration at having their diplomas and experience not being recognized in Quebec.

Le Devoir reported that of the 4,500 candidates who try to integrate a professional order each year, nearly 3,000 receive recognition for their achievements provided they are trained or participate in a complementary course, however, the demands for the courses are often inaccessible and too long, resulting in an approximate 28 per cent drop-out rate.

That was one of the issues raised during a QCGN-sponsored workshop on factors related to foreign student retention and integration in Quebec and Canada. The results of two new studies were presented including one by Paul Holley, Association for Canadian Studies and another by Kareem El-Assal from the Conference Board of Canada.

The ACS study, entitled Push-Pull Factors Related to Student Retention and Integration in Québec, makes a number of recommendations to encourage foreign students to remain in Quebec. They recommend improved access to French-language instruction for English-speaking students; the creation of social networking opportunities for English-speaking students; improving students’ welcoming experience with the university’s administration. They also suggest developing and improving the foreign credential recognition program for newcomers and making access to permanent residency after studies easier for international students.

The Conference Board study entitled Bringing the World to Quebec: Six Suggestions to Attract and Retain More International Students suggests that international post-secondary students offer much value to Quebec: educational, social, cultural, demographic, and economic.

“To strengthen its economy, Quebec could use more of their skills, knowledge, and global connections. But Quebec’s recruitment and retention of international students could be more effective,” the study says while recommending six ways the province could promote its unique features in the competitive world market for international students and encourage their immigration to Quebec and integration into the workforce.

“It is helpful for our Network to understand the socioeconomic and linguistic factors that drive foreign English-speaking students to leave Quebec upon completing their studies,” commented Martin-Laforge. “We want more of them to remain here since they bolster our community and contribute to the economic prosperity of Quebec.”

RURAL AND ISOLATED REGIONS TO GET BROADBAND ACCESS

A recent policy by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declares high speed internet access a basic service for all Canadians and sets out the actions the commission must take to help meet the needs of Canadians so that they can participate in the digital economy and society.

“This is big news for QCGN members living in rural and remote communities, and the new broadband fund to support increased internet access is also big – up to $750 million over five years,” said Guy Rodgers, Executive Director of the English Language Arts Network, noting the fund will be launched this spring.

ELAN and the Quebec English-Language Production Council (QEPC) are members of a minority languages working group with the CRTC. At a meeting in late March, the CRTC informed them that Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496 adds broadband internet access service – both fixed and mobile – to the list of basic telecommunications services that Canadians receive. View a PowerPoint summary of the CRTC’s strategic objectives.

“It will be essential for our communities to be involved in the validation of this new policy and, more importantly, in its implementation,” said Rodgers, explaining the first step will be a conference call information session.  “You are all busy, but this new policy has major significance for rural and regional communities, so please take a minute to sign up for a conference call information session,” he said.

To participate in a conference call within the next two weeks, contact ELAN at guyrodgers@quebec-elan.org.

The next steps will be to participate in CRTC public hearings and to contact regional internet providers.

CPF LAUNCHES SECOND VIRTUAL CHOIR AND OTHER STUDENT ACTIVITIES

By Marla Williams
CPF-Quebec Coordinator

Following the success of the initial tour, Canadian Parents for French-Quebec (CPF-Quebec), in partnership with Bishop’s University, the Community Learning Centres/LEARN Quebec and the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, is pleased to bring you the second French Second Language (FSL) Virtual Choir in the province.

Students from across the program perform Mon ami m’a raconté!, a playful song that was written and arranged by Chantal Gosselin and Jamie Crooks which reminds us of a time before the internet existed.

The Virtual Choir project was created to foster an appreciation of the French language and culture among the English-speaking and Allophone communities in a fun and meaningful way, as well as to bring diverse communities together through song.

Students had fun with this song, which got them to think about how we could manage without the internet or electricity.

Susana Elmaliotis, music teacher at Parkdale Elementary School, said her students had a thought-provoking conversation about times when they had experienced power outages during extreme weather events and enjoyed delving into questions about their own social media use.

For more on the Virtual Choir project, please click here.

2017 Quebec Concours d’art oratoire

CPF Quebec’s provincial Concours d’art oratoire will take place on April 29 at the Cosmodome in Laval.

The Concours d’art oratoire is a French-speaking competition for secondary students throughout the province for which students write an original three to five-minute speech on a topic of their choice, and present it in front of a panel of judges, parents and peers.

Students may participate through their schools or as independent contestants. Participants are grouped according to their level of French and have the chance to win several prizes and scholarships.

Open to high school students from across the province, Secondary V winners are invited to participate at the National Concours finals in Ottawa on June 3, where they will spend a weekend with French-second language students from across the country. During the finals participants compete against Provincial Concours winners from across Canada for a chance to win scholarships to the University of Ottawa and other Canadian universities (some in excess of $20,000).

Posters are currently available for secondary schools. For more details, please contact Marla Williams mwilliams@cpf.ca or Gabrielle Guillon gguillon@cpf.ca.

O’Poesie – CPF-Quebec Launches its First Poetry Contest

O’Poésie is a French as a Second Language poetry contest open to youth in Quebec aged 10 to 17. This provincial poetry contest provides an opportunity to foster social emotional learning, and for FSL students to share their experiences by using words creatively and to use the French language in an entirely new way.

Send your poem by May 12, 2017, by mail or email to Gabrielle Guillon at gguillon@cpf.ca (with O’Poesie Contest in the subject heading). For more details and rules, please visit http://qc.cpf.ca/opoesie/.

I READ THEREFORE I AM – MEGANTIC AREA YOUTH LAUNCH COLLECTION OF STORIES

MCDC Book Launches

Submitted by Megantic English-speaking Community Development Corporation

The Megantic English-speaking Community Development Corporation, (MCDC) is proud to announce the official launch of a collective book I read therefore I am aimed at promoting literacy among the youth. The book was produced in collaboration with St. Patrick Elementary and A.S. Johnson High School in Thetford Mines.

The book is a collection of stories written by the students. Each student from Kindergarten to Secondary V contributed to the book either by drawing a picture (for the little ones) or by writing a story based on one of themes suggested by their teacher.

Additionally, students in the art class were asked to illustrate each section of the book. It was a complete collective effort by all involved – students, teachers, the school, MCDC staff and volunteers – to make this book come true.

In addition to the book, other activities took place during the year to promote literacy and encourage students to read. This included volunteers (students and seniors) reading stories to little ones, visiting the “Salon du Livre” in Quebec City, and attending a conference by Literacy Quebec.

“MCDC is so proud to have initiated this project in collaboration with the school. In this age of electronic devices and social media, fewer and fewer young people read. Yet, good reading skills play such an important role in pursuing post-secondary studies and find good employment,” said MCDC President Ann Marie Laughrea Powell. “We really hope that our project has contributed, at least to some degree, to give the desire to read to our youth and to help them experience the joy that a good book can bring.”

“This book, the culmination of a year-long literacy project, has given our students advanced opportunities to listen, speak, write and read,” added Stephen Renaud, Principal at St. Patrick Elementary and A.S. Johnson High School. “I can’t thank MCDC enough for allowing every St. Patrick’s and ASJ student the opportunity to publish their work. “

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book for $10, contact Estelle at MCDC (418-332-3851) or Brenda at the English school (418-335-5366).

MCDC is grateful to the Government of Canada for providing the funding that made this project possible. We also thank St. Patrick Elementary and A.S. Johnson High School students and teaching staff, Principal Renaud, and the volunteers who read to young students for their enthusiastic participation in this project.

QCGN MEMBERS BRING AWARENESS TO PARKINSON’S DISEASE

Parkinson Canada – Québec, a relatively new member of the Quebec Community Groups Network, is working with member organizations and stakeholders to bring more awareness about the neurodegenerative disease to the public.

Parkinson Canada, which joined the Network in September 2016, is a pan-Canadian, bilingual organization servicing the Parkinson community since 1965. It has eight regional offices including one in Montreal that serves the province of Quebec in both English and French.
Last week, the organization worked with D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum to bring Parkinson’s awareness to the National Assembly.

On April 6, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Higher Education, made a declaration in support of Parkinson Canada for Parkinson Awareness Month. The statement discussed the 200th anniversary of the first report of the disease by James Parkinson, the far-reaching effects of this condition and Parkinson Canada’s initiatives to help people in Quebec living with the disease.

“Parkinson’s is the second most important neurodegenerative disease and the population affected by it is expected to double within the next 15 years,” Birnbaum said. “I thought it necessary to put on the record of the National Assembly this vital concern and to apprise Quebecers of the importance of research and treatment.”

Some 100,000 Canadians, including 25,000 Quebecers, live with Parkinson’s disease. One out of five of them is under 50 and more than half will need formal or informal assistance for their daily living. Health care professionals from a dozen specialties may be needed to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Motor symptoms include: rigidity, slowness, posture and gait changes as well as tremors. There are about 20 possible non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, ranging from sleep disorders, depression and incontinence to speaking and swallowing difficulties.

Also for Parkinson Awareness Month, Parkinson Canada and the Cummings Center will be hosting a bilingual symposium for people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones. The conference, which was funded in part by Canadian Heritage, will focus on medications used to treat Parkinson’s and the impact of exercise on managing symptoms. The symposium will be held at the Gelber Conference Centre in Montreal on April 26, 2017. Details at www.parkinson.ca/qc426.

The Quebec chapter of Parkinson Canada recently presented an information session on Parkinson’s disease in Chateauguay, hosted by Montérégie West Community Network and will present another in Greenfield Park, hosted by the South Shore Community Partners Network on April 13.

Parkinson Canada offers phone and email information and referral services for persons with the disease, members of their family, and/or their caregivers; monthly support groups; education and awareness through conferences and training sessions. Its vision is a better life for Canadians living with Parkinson’s today; a world without Parkinson’s tomorrow.

VEQ SPRING FEST KICKS WINTER TO THE CURB

On Thursday, March 30, 70 people shared some good food and good conversation during the Voice of English-speaking Québec’s Spring Fest. Community members were invited to the 5 à 7 to kick winter to the curb and to celebrate the culmination of the Collaborative Community Mural and the Digital Memories projects, both funded by Canadian Heritage. A real size replica of the mural was on site for people to view and copies of a commemorative book created along with the paintings was handed out. The Digital Memories DVD was also distributed and the video was viewed during the event which was a great success.

Network News – February 2017

President’s Message

By Jim Shea
QCGN President
I am very happy to report that the QCGN have just received a letter from the Prime Minister unequivocally reiterating his personal commitment to the rights of our English language minority community and to those of the French language minority outside Quebec. The letter was gracious and heartening, as it was clear our Prime Minister understands the importance of speaking to minority language communities in their own language. You can read the letter here. The QCGN has in turn responded to the Prime Minister’s letter expressing gratitude for his continuing support and the collaboration demonstrated by the Government. We have also extended an invitation on the community’s behalf to meet at his convenience to discuss the special challenges English-speaking Quebec faces. I understand that the letter will be shared with the Liberal caucus and I encourage you to share it with other members of the English-speaking community.

Government of Canada Restores and Expands Court Challenges Program

Court Challenges Program and James Shea

I was also happy to be on hand in early Feburary to represent the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) at a press conference and briefing where Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announced the resurrection of the Court Challenges Program of Canada. QCGN is pleased that the program that funds legal challenges for language and equality rights cases, is not only being reinstated, but improved in response to joint recommendations made by the QCGN and Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA). Read our press release. The QCGN looks forward to ensuring English-speaking Quebec’s full participation in the governance of the improved program. Represented by former MP Marlene Jennings and lawyer Eric Maldoff, the QCGN participated in the study of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST), which produced a series of recommendations on which the new Court Challenges Program is modeled. The testimony by Maldoff and Jennings mirrored recommendations and principles QCGN and FCFA developed jointly to advise the Government of Canada on the reinstatement of the program. I would like to extend a special thanks to Marlene and Eric as well as Townshippers’ Association President Gerry Cutting and Jeffery Hale Executive Director Richard Walling who, along with Marlene, represented our community in these discussions with other minority rights advocates.

QCGN Meets New Parliamentary Secretary for Canadian Heritage

On Wednesday February 15, QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers and I had the pleasure of meeting Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, the newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Mr. Casey is assigned to assist the Minister of Canadian Heritage across the breadth of her responsibilities, including official languages, except for multiculturalism, which will be covered by Parkdale-High Park MP Arif Virani. Casey and Virani are two parliamentary secretaries who were recently named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On behalf of the QCGN, I would like to thank outgoing parliamentary secretary Randy Boissonnault, who did a tremendous job during the recent consultations on official languages. Boissonnault was appointed as a special adviser to the prime minister on LGBTQ2 issues. QCGN also welcomes Serge Cormier, MP for Acadie-Bathurst, as the new Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Other MPs from our community were also promoted from the backbench including Sherry Romanado, MP for Longueuil-Charles-LeMoyne (Veterans Affairs); Marc Miller, MP for Ville Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs (Infrastructure and Communities) and Joel Lightbound, Louis Hébert (Health), who we ran into this summer during the Cross-Canada Consultation on Official Languages when it touched down in Quebec City. The QCGN looks forward to working with these new appointees.

QCGN Meets with Premier Liaison Officer Gregory Kelley

QCGN Meets Gregory Kelley

On February 11, fellow Board member Geoffrey Chambers and our Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge met with Gregory Kelley, who Premier Philippe Couillard appointed as his liaison officer with Quebec’s English-speaking community, following a promise made during a bilateral meeting with the QCGN last November. “I want to make sure that we hear all the issues before they come to the surface, prevent and act upstream, engage with the communities in Quebec, English-speaking Quebecers all across Quebec,” Couillard told reporters on Tuesday. Kelley has been working in Quebec City for the last five to six years, most recently as a political aide to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Fournier. The QCGN has an excellent working relationship with him and now that he is in the Premier’s office we trust that he will be a real asset in moving the priorities of our community forward. At this initial meeting many priority files were discussed including: the community’s request for a formal contact within the Conseil exécutif; strong representation at the senior levels of the Ministries of Health and Education where community governance and other matters are critical; and, representation of English-speaking Quebecers in the civil service. Kelley told the QCGN he wants to be where the community is and so we urge organizations serving English-speaking Quebec to get on his dance card by inviting him to all the major events in our community. The QCGN is anticipating having monthly meetings with Greg to identify avenues for development, discuss potential projects, and exchange general information.

Minority Language Finnish Swedes Visit the QCGN

QCGN Meets with Swedish minority from Finland

On February 9, QCGN was delighted to host the board of the Svenska Folkskolans Vänner (SFV), a foundation that supports the Swedish-speaking linguistic minority population of Finland. Founded in 1882 to cater to basic schooling and libraries and to publish educational books for the Swedish-speaking population of Finland, the mission has grown. The foundation now owns educational centres and vocational schools, supports cultural venues, publishes a cultural magazine, and encourages people with prizes and scholarships. Each year SFV is also a big benefactor to a varying array of cultural and educational events and projects. On hand for our discussion with the SFV board were Jack Jedwab from the Association of Canadian Studies, Lorraine O’Donnell from the Quebec English-Speaking Communities Research Network (QUESCREN), Guy Rodgers from the English-Language Arts Network and Marcus Tabachnick from the Quebec English School Boards Association as well as Walter Duszara from the QCGN Board. The Finnish Swedes were in Montreal as part of a Canadian visit to study bilingualism in our country. They visited our sister community in Ontario and were prevented from travelling to New Brunswick by a typical Canadian snowstorm. After meeting with the QCGN, they had a videoconference with New Brunswick’s Commissioner of Official Languages Katherine d’Entremont, before having dinner with some English-speaking representatives of the Quebec government including David Birnbaum and Geoffrey Kelley.

QCGN AGM to be Held on June 16

At a recent meeting the QCGN’s board of directors set the date for the 17th annual meeting of the Quebec Community Groups Network for June 16. The convention and annual general meeting will be held in Montreal at Le Nouvel Hotel. Details on the program will be announced in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we are asking members of the network and the community to start thinking about who they want to see representing them on the QCGN board. An official call for nominations will be circulated in April.

COMMUNITY INNOVATION FINALISTS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON

By Tamara Hart
Community Innovation Fund Project Assistant

The Community Innovation Fund has received many great project proposals and has recruited a blue- ribbon panel of independent experts to undertake the selection process.The Fund received 43 applications from community organizations across Quebec – great projects and programs that aim to serve the most vulnerable members of Quebec’s English-speaking communities. These are the vulnerable populations targeted by the fund which was set up to finance social initiatives to improve employability or basic socioeconomic security for vulnerable youth, seniors/caregivers, or newcomers.

Managed by the Quebec Community Groups Network, the Community Innovation Fund is a new resource for Quebec’s English-speaking communities to put social innovation in action. Financed by the Government of Canada through the Social Partnership Initiative in Official Language Minority Communities, the fund will invest more than $1 million in social initiatives while building partnerships to increase funds that will be injected into the community.

The independent selection committee that will be choosing which organizations to invite to submit a full application is being led by Grace Hogg, grants coordinator of the George Hogg Family Foundation.

“I am honoured to chair the Community Innovation Fund Selection Committee, and am excited about the creative approach the Fund is taking,” commented Hogg. “The project’s emphasis on building organizational capacity and resilience through a circle of knowledge sharing is uniquely daring. It offers not just the obvious opportunity to provide much needed funding to organizations working with vulnerable people, but also to help these organizations learn, grow and, together, build a more cooperative and inventive community sector.”

Sitting on the selection committee with Hogg are Eva Ludvig, former Quebec representative of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, and Beverley Caplan, former regional manager at the Department of Canadian Heritage. They both bring a wealth of knowledge about the challenges of Quebec’s English-speaking official language minority communities all across the province.

Also on the committee are Jordan Black, an MBA student at Desautels School of Management at McGill University studying nonprofit consulting and management, as well as Sunil Manjunath and Madeline Doyle, who are consultants with the Community Service Initiative of the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University.

Organizations serving Quebec’s English-speaking communities were invited to submit preliminary proposals in December. All letters of intent and documentation are being thoroughly reviewed in accordance with selection criteria and based on the requirements of the Innovation Fund and Economic and Social Development Canada. A shortlist of 10 to 12 applicants will be announced in April.

“We have been working diligently to put in place a process which is fair and transparent, which includes creating a selection committee of unbiased individuals who are knowledgeable of the community sector in Quebec,” said QCGN board member James Hughes, who sits on the Governance Committee of the Fund.

“Building this type of committee has taken more time than anticipated, but is integral to the process,” he added, noting that for reasons of transparency the selection committee members all have experience working in the community, without being directly involved in organizations.

“As a result, we have a strong selection committee of people from diverse backgrounds representing the private, public and academic sectors with experience in community development,” he said. “We look forward to announcing the selected projects and organizations in the coming weeks.”

Hughes noted that measures have been put in place to ensure organizations will be supported through various stages of development.

“The full project proposal is an innovative and inclusive process and the likelihood of short-listed projects receiving funding is very high,” said Maria Rivas-Rivero, manager of the Community Innovation Fund, who explained that phase two of the selection process will include the submission’s full application based on the Community Innovation Fund community development model. “Applicants will be briefed and accompanied as they put together their final project proposals and detailed budgets.”

If all goes according to plan, projects will be ready to begin in the spring.

For more information on the Community Innovation Fund, please contact Maria Rivas-Rivero at 514-868-9044, ext 230 or Maria.Rivas-Rivero@qcgn.ca.

YOUNG QUEBECERS LEADING THE WAY TO NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION

By Lisanne Gamelin
QCGN Youth Coordinator

Interesting discussions and lively debates are anticipated as dozens of youth prepare to convene in the National Capital Region for the third and final Young Quebecers Leading the Way forum from March 10 to 12.We have an exciting lineup of knowledgeable and influential workshop leaders with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who will co-lead the Politics and Democracy workshop with political reporter Nick Gamache, producer of CBC Radio’s federal political affairs show The House and author of Inside Politics blog.

Our latest Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award winner Dafina Savic, a Roma rights activist who is also the Human Rights Coordinator at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, and MP Anne-Minh Thu Quach, one of three Vietnamese Canadians elected to the House of Commons, will address shifting Canadian Identity in 2067.

Our Indigenous Peoples workshop will be co-led by Millennial Suffragette Jenn Jefferys, an Ottawa-based feminist activist and writer, and Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou MP Romeo Saganash, the first MP from an indigenous community to be elected in Quebec. Saganash also founded the Cree Nation Youth Council in 1985.

Our Social Issues and the Environment workshop will be co-led by National Observer managing editor Mike de Souza and Elyse Tremblay-Longchamps, vice-president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), who was recently named as a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council.

Other participants include former Canadian ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Todd Kuiack, an Algonquin from Pikwakanagan who spent 11 years in the foreign service in Latin American (Canada in the World) and Canadian Press Ottawa bureau chief Heather Scoffield (Economy), an award-winning journalist.

Désirée McGraw to Deliver Keynote

The two-day forum will kick off Saturday morning with a keynote speech delivered by Désirée McGraw, who was the first female president of Pearson College in British Columbia in its 40-year existence. McGraw, who is passionate about the civic engagement of young Canadians, is the former executive director and president of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation and Sauvé Scholars Foundation, whose mission is to connect, engage and empower a new generation of public leadership in Canada and around the world to address key global challenges. A co-founder of the Canadian branch of Al Gore’s Climate Project, she was a youth activist in the ’80s when the arms race was at its peak.

On Saturday night, we will be screening Québec My Country Mon Pays, a documentary by John Walker. The film explores Walker’s personal story through the lens of a cast of characters including three generations of his family, childhood confidantes and artistic contemporaries such as renowned Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand, authors Jacques Godbout and Louise Pelletier. Christina Clark, a young English-speaking Quebecer whose experience today mirrors Walker’s own in the 1960s and ’70s, will be on hand for a post-movie conversation about the challenges of young English speakers in modern Quebec.

The film will be screened at the Wakefield Film Festival on Feb. 25 and 26 and on The Documentary Channel on March 22.

During our closing ceremony, which will be held on Parliament Hill on Sunday afternoon, we will be joined by both the federal and provincial parliamentary youth secretaries who will be commenting on the declaration prepared by our participants. Peter Schiefke, Justin Trudeau’s youth secretary, and his provincial counterpart Karine Vallières. They are both making a second appearance after being with us for last year’s forum in Montreal.

The opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the Saturday evening’s post-movie chat with Christina Clark, will be emceed by CBC Quebec’s roving reporter Marika Wheeler, who travels across the province telling people’s stories for CBC Radio One and CBC News. She recently covered the mosque shooting in Quebec City.

Not Too Late to Register

In preparation for the provincial forum in March, regional workshops were held in January and February. Even if you weren’t present for the workshops, there are still limited spaces available for the forum. So, if you are interested, register now.

You can find out more on our project website or follow the Young Quebecers Leading the Way social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For additional information, please email lisanne.gamelin@qcgn.ca.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND THE INTEGRATION OF ENGLISH-SPEAKING NEWCOMERS IN QUEBEC

By Rita Legault
QCGN Director of Communications

On March 15, 2017, the Quebec Community Groups Network will be hosting a one-day conference entitled Community Engagement and the Successful Integration of Newcomers.This pre-forum to the National Metropolis Conference aims to bring together representatives from various sectors and regions to discuss how newcomers – immigrants, refugees and migrants – integrate into Quebec society through the province’s English-speaking communities and institutions.

The conference, sponsored by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), will kick off with a workshop/panel entitled Faith-based Organizations as Integrating Factors for Newcomers that will discuss how churches, synagogues, and faith-based groups are integrating newcomers into our communities. This panel was organized in cooperation with QCGN member organization the English-speaking Catholic Council whose executive director, Anna Farrow, will moderate.

For more than three decades, Quebec’s Catholic community has transformed from one largely composed of English speakers of Irish and English descent to a community that is comprised of a wide swath of cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

During the past 35 years, many of the English-speaking parishes in Montreal, Laval and the South Shore have operated as de facto landing pads for newcomers where English is the language of worship and interaction. Though most of these immigrant populations are neither French nor English-speaking, and though they are rightly working towards integration into French-speaking Quebec, many have English as their First Official Language Spoken (FOLS) and are integrating into Quebec through the English-speaking community through churches.

Other faith-based organizations in our community are also engaged in newcomer integration and supporting asylum seekers – most recently in the welcome of Syrian refugees. Our multi faith panel will include Alessandra Santopadre from the Archdiocese of Montreal; Pastor Eric Dyck from St. John’s Lutheran Church; Fr. Francis McKee from Jesus Light of the World Parish; Rabbi Lisa Grushcow from Temple Emanu-el-beth sholom; and Norbert Piché, the director of Jesuit Refugee Service – Canada.

Following a networking lunch, the afternoon will begin with a panel entitled The Role of Municipalities in Welcoming Newcomers that will discuss the growing role of our cities and towns in welcoming and integrating migrants, immigrants, and refugees and how they can partner effectively with community institutions and non-profit organizations for success in retaining newcomers.

Confirmed participants in this panel include Vera Dodic, the director of the City of Toronto’s Newcomer Office and Sherbrooke city councillor Annie Godbout, who presides over the city’s intercultural relations diversity committee Le comité des relations interculturelles et de la diversité de la Ville de Sherbrooke. Panelists from the City of Montreal and Quebec City have yet to confirm their participation. This panel will be moderated by Brigitte Dugay-Langlais, the coordinator of the Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone de l’Est de l’Ontario (RSIFEO).

The conference will wrap up with a roundtable entitled Fostering the Vitality of English-Speaking Communities in Quebec Through the Successful Integration of Newcomers. Along with participants, this plenary panel hopes to uncover innovative ways that our communities can – with the support of municipal, provincial, and federal government institutions – foster the vitality of English-speaking communities in Quebec through the successful integration of newcomers and how partnerships with community groups and institutions can better lead to positive settlement outcomes for newcomers.

This panel, moderated by Cynthia Ralickas of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, will include David O. Johnston, Quebec representative of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. Other panelists will be announced soon.

For details of QCGN’s conference and the registration link, visit our webpage.

The QCGN is also sponsoring a conference during the main Metropolis event that will talk about attracting and retaining foreign students. Entitled Pathways to Permanent Residence: Factors Related to Foreign Student Retention and Integration in Quebec and Canada, the workshop will bring together researchers and experts to discuss the principal factors that drive foreign students to remain in or leave Canada or their host province upon the completion of a university education.

With a focus on Quebec, participants will look at the socioeconomic and linguistic factors that attract students to Canada and contribute to their retention. This workshop will also examine the programs that facilitate international student mobility to Canada, the initial motivations for studying and living in Canada, what kind of support students secure from the university community across their period of study, and the conditions that might motivate them to remain upon the completion of their studies.

ENGLISH-SPEAKING HISTORY TEACHERS SOUGHT FOR STUDY

Dr. Paul Zanazanian, a history education specialist at McGill University, is seeking research participants for a study that examines the workings of English-speaking teachers’ historical consciousness and its impact on the ways they understand and teach the Quebec/Canadian history program to students. If you know history teachers in your community, the QCGN encourages you to make them aware of the opportunity to participate in this study.Dr. Zanazanian notes that the teaching of history is important for helping English-speaking youth develop a sense of identity and belonging to Quebec. Given the presence of a conventional master narrative in the provincial history program, the study will look at a variety of questions including how do teachers make room for the perspectives of English speakers and other minority groups? Twenty participants are currently needed from Montreal, Gatineau, Quebec City, and Sherbrooke. This study is funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) and Dr. Zanazanian is the principal and sole investigator of the study. For further information, please contact Dr. Zanazanian at paul.zanazanian@mcgill.ca. You can also reach him directly by phone at 514-398-4527 ext. 00495

CANADIAN PARENTS FOR FRENCH KEEPING BUSY, LOOKING FOR NEW MEMBERS IN QUEBEC

Submitted by Canadian Parents for French in Quebec

Over the past few years, Canadian Parents for French in Quebec has been busy engaging youth and community members in a wide variety of activities including its Virtual Choir project and running the provincial semi-finals for CPF’s national Concours d’art oratoire. They have also conducted several information sessions for parents who want to learn more about supporting their children with their FSL learning.

In November, CPF held a conference examining the outcomes of FSL learning among English-speaking youth in Quebec 50 years after the creation of the first French immersion program by a group of dedicated parents on Montreal’s South Shore.

CPF’s Concours d’art oratoire provides the opportunity for students in English schools across Canada to write an original three- to five-minute piece and recite it in front of their peers and a panel of judges.

This year’s Provincial Concours, open to secondary students in Quebec, will take place on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the Cosmodome in Laval. Provincial winners have the chance to win cash prizes and medals and Secondary 5 winners will travel to the National Concours in Ottawa to compete for scholarships (many in excess of $20,000) from the University of Ottawa and other universities across Canada.

CPF is also repeating its successful Virtual Choir project. This year’s choir features a short, fun song entitled Mon ami m’a raconté that allows youth to explore what life was like before the internet existed. There are still a few spots left. If your school or community choir is interested in taking part, please contact Marla at mwilliams@cpf.ca

In the meantime, CPF is looking for individuals and organizations to help continue to bring quality French second-language activities to English-speaking communities around the province. If you are interested in becoming a member, please click here for more details.

POST-SECONDARY GRADUATES INVITED TO DISCOVER THE ESTRIE – FOR FREE

Submitted by Townshippers’ AssociationTownshippers’ Association’s Make Way for YOUth Estrie project will hold its first Discovery Day exploratory weekend from March 17 to 19. Plans are also taking shape for two other activities in summer and autumn giving participants a chance to take in the Estrie region in all its seasonal splendor.

Make Way for YOUth’s Discovery Days are the perfect way for busy post-secondary students and graduates and/or families who are considering a move to the Eastern Townships to be introduced to the people, places, and services of the Estrie English-speaking community.

Figuring out where to move before making the commitment can be overwhelming. But Make Way for YOUth’s activities makes it easier and even exciting.

“The interesting places they visit and the amazing food they enjoy during these weekends are great at helping to introduce participants to the region. But what is particularly wonderful is the networking activities that give participants a unique opportunity to experience the friendliness of our community first-hand,” explained project coordinator Holly McMillan.

“By welcoming them into our community, they leave feeling as though they are already a part of it,” McMillan added. “That sense of belonging is important when choosing where to call home and it helps make the decision so much easier. The best part? All costs relating to the activities – lodging, meals, and transportation – are covered through the project so people are free to enjoy the activities.”

Located in southeastern Quebec an hour east of Montreal, with the U.S. border to the south, the Estrie region is home to a charming all seasons playground with urban delights at its core. It is home to the adventurous with a vibrant English-speaking community where bilingual opportunities abound in a wide range of industries including agriculture, arts, culture, information and technology, education, healthcare, and manufacturing, and it welcomes innovative entrepreneurs.

The Project

Make Way for YOUth’s Discovery Days include free activities that help young professionals, under the age of 35, meet new people, see new places, learn new things about the Estrie. Conferences, workshops, visits to businesses and tourist attractions, savouring a meal at exceptional local restaurants and networking opportunities, are among the activities they will experience.

Other free Make Way for YOUth services include long-distance individual support to help young, English-speaking professionals find a job and get settled in a new community, and access to the weekly Accro des regions e-bulletin, which lists jobs that require knowledge of English or consider it an asset.

Make Way for YOUth can also help local employers, by providing free job postings, excellent visibility and networking opportunities that allow local businesses to find qualified employees, make new business contacts and increase their visibility in the English-speaking community. Both job seekers and employers can also use www.Topportunity.ca, which offers postings of jobs requiring English for all parts of the Townships.

Registrations are now being taken for the March Discovery Days, but spaces are limited. Those interested in taking part should register by Feb. 28, 2017, to guarantee their spot.

To qualify for MWFY’s activities or services you must be a graduate, or a soon to be graduate, from a post-secondary institution (college, university, vocational school) between the ages of 18 and 35 and eligible to work in Canada.

Make Way for YOUth Estrie is an initiative of the province-wide Place aux jeunes en region, which encourages the migration and settlement of youth in areas outside of Québec’s large city centres, and is offered to the English-speaking community by Townshippers’ Association. The activities of Make Way for YOUth are made possible thanks to the financial support of the Secrétariat à la Jeunesse and numerous businesses and organizations throughout the Estrie region.

To register or for more information, contact Holly McMillan, Make Way for YOUth Migration Agent, by phone at 819-566-5717 (toll-free: 1-866-566-5717) or by e-mail: mwfy@townshippers.org.

Network News December 2016

Please note that the QCGN office will be closed for the holidays from 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16 and will be back in the office on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

President’s Message

By James Shea
QCGN President

Last week the QCGN was in Ottawa to participate in the final roundtable for the Cross-Canada Official Languages Consultations hosted by the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly and her Parliamentary Secretary Randy Boissonnault. It was great to see a strong delegation of our member organizations and stakeholders at the table defending the interests of our community of communities from Quebec. Participants in the forum and the consultations are seeking to bolster the vitality of Official Language Minority Communities, more promotion of official languages and more concrete measures for boosting bilingual and second-language learning across the country. The federal government’s strategy on official languages is essential to the vitality of our minority community and we are looking forward to increased support for our minority communities in the next action plan. (See full story below.)

House Committee Report on Official Languages

The next action plan was also the subject of a recently released report from the House Standing Committee on Official Languages. Entitled Toward a New Action Plan for Official Languages and Building Momentum for Immigration in Francophone Minority Communities, the report includes a number of excellent recommendations with regards to transparency, accountability, and the involvement of official language minority communities in the Government of Canada’s official languages strategy. However, the QCGN was somewhat concerned about a recommendation that could let federal institutions off the hook in areas that require intergovernmental cooperation because of the need to “respect Quebec’s prerogatives.” Good relationships between the federal and provincial government are key to supporting official language communities and we are disappointed our community was somewhat sidelined by that recommendation. To read the report click here. For more on the QCGN’s reaction read our press release here.

Moving Closer to Provincial Liaison for English-speaking Community

Speaking of the Government of Quebec, the media have been pressuring Premier Philippe Couillard on what he plans to do to better liaise with the English-speaking community since the QCGN met with him in Quebec City in early November. While reporters seem stuck on the notion of what they have dubbed a “Minister for Anglo Affairs,” the QCGN is most concerned about having a door in Quebec City to knock on to discuss the concerns of Quebec’s English-speaking community at a policy, not a political level “so the government doesn’t come up with something (policies, bills, regulations) that doesn’t respect our communities’ histories and needs,” QCGN vice-president Geoffrey Chambers explained to Global Montreal. Premier Couillard said that when he met with the QCGN, he was asked to undertake specific action and that he committed to doing so. He also told reporters that he would like to have someone on his staff that would act as a contact person for the English community rather than having us “knock at all the doors in order to get results.” When pressed on the issue of a minister, Couillard replied, “I’d rather have a broad engagement of my government, including in my staff, towards issues that are important for the English-speaking community.” He also said that “a lot of people are interested, interestingly enough, to play that role.” The Premier also said “rather than Anglophones, I’d rather say English-speaking Quebecers which for me reflects the reality much better and in a much more positive way. The QCGN could not agree more on his choice of designations for our community that we consider far more inclusive and reflective of the individuals we serve. Click on The GazetteGlobal Montreal, and CTV to see the coverage.

QCGN Holidays Open House

Despite the inclement weather last Monday, about three dozen members and stakeholders of the QCGN were on hand for our staff’s Third Annual Holiday Breakfast and Open House. While I was unable to attend, our guests included Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, Pierrefonds-Roxboro Borough Mayor Dimitrios (Jim) Beis and D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum. Our staff-led holiday tradition which is coupled with a fundraising activity to support one of our member organizations, collected more than $150 to support the activities of Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre. More donations were made online by guests who had to send their regrets because of the weather or because they were under the weather. If you want to show your support for Tyndale St. Georges, you can donate online at the following link.

Quebec Invests in English-speaking Youth

While staff served breakfast at the QCGN office, our Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge was in Quebec City with Bishop University’s Principal Michael Goldbloom, Bishop’s Dean of Education Marie-Josée Berger and representatives from the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) for the unveiling of the provincial government’s 2016-2021 youth strategy. The five-year $200-million plan, announced by Premier Philippe Couillard and his Secretary for Youth Karine Vallières, includes measures to help young English-speaking Quebecers. Among our projects that received the green light was a civic leadership institute in collaboration with Bishop’s University in Lennoxville. (Read our joint press release with Bishop’s here). Additional funds, distributed via CHSSN, will support a pilot project that would foster links between our youth and the employability services offered by Carrefours jeunesse-emploi (CJE) and help the government-run youth employment centres better serve English-speaking youth. I congratulated CHSSN, Townshippers’ Association, and the Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA) for their successful pitch to the Secrétariat à la jeunesse du Québec and making this project possible. More details on the government’s youth strategy can be found by clicking here.

Treasury Board Reviewing Official Languages Regulations

In mid-November, I was on hand with Treasury Board President Scott Brison and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly for an announcement that the federal government will undertake a review of the regulations pertaining to the Official Languages Act which deal with communicating to the public. The QCGN was pleased to be invited to attend the announcement and welcomes an open process that ensures the regulatory framework supporting our Official Languages Act remains relevant, and flexible while preserving continuity of the federal government’s duty towards the linguistic rights of Canadians. Read our press release here. Click here to read our opinion piece on this issue that was published in The Hill Times.

Early Bird Registration Open for Metropolis Montreal 2017

Registrations are now open for the National Metropolis Conference that will be held in Montreal from March 16-18, 2017, under the theme Looking Forward: Migration and Mobility in 2017 and Beyond. Metropolis Montreal 2017, which is being organized and hosted by the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS), is expected to be the biggest, best and most important Metropolis conference to date, attracting delegates from every part of Canada and every sector of society. The National Metropolis Conference is an annual forum for researchers, policy makers, representatives from community and settlement organizations to get together to share and exchange knowledge and experience in the field of immigration and settlement. The 2017 National Metropolis Conference will focus on future immigration trends and policies and the challenges and opportunities that they create for Canadian society. The conference will include plenary panels with distinguished speakers and workshop and roundtable sessions on a wide variety of topics related to immigration and diversity. Participating this year will be federal and provincial immigration ministers John McCallum and Kathleen Weil as well as Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. For details about Metropolis click here. To register click here. (Program will be posted on the site on Tuesday.)

Pre-forum to Focus on English-speaking Community

The QCGN is working with ACS and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to prepare a pre-conference on March 15 that will focus on the issues of newcomers and Quebec’s English-speaking communities. Details on that part of the event will be available in early January.

MINORITY COMMUNITIES SEEKING MORE SUPPORT FROM NEXT ACTION PLAN

By Rita Legault
QCGN Director of Communications

Canada-wide consultations on official languages wrapped up last week in Ottawa as the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly and her Parliamentary Secretary Randy Boissonnault met with representatives of key organizations from the English-speaking communities of Quebec and francophone minority communities as well as organizations promoting linguistic duality, bilingualism, and second-language learning.

“French and English are at the heart of our identity,” commented Joly as she launched national roundtable discussions seeking concrete measures on how to rally all Canadians to the cause.

Participants in the final one-day forum on Dec. 8, including three dozen representatives from English-language organizations in Quebec, were invited to share their concerns and propose solutions. Many highlighted the issue of stable, predictable and flexible funding to strengthen the capacity of organizations supporting the vitality of official language minority communities. This issue came up often during consultations across the country.

The Cross-Canada Official Languages Consultations, which ran from June to December, included a series of 22 roundtables held in the country’s main regions including Sherbrooke, Quebec City and Montreal. Chaired by Joly or Boissonnault, more than 370 participants and more than 130 observers participated in the roundtables.

Not surprisingly, the issue of funding for minority language organizations has largely taken centre stage. By the end of the consultations, there was a clear expectation that the current envelope of $1.1 billion over five years be expanded.

“This is important because it has been 10 years since there has been no increase,” commented Boissonault during the hearings. “But for any request for additional funding we must provide a solid case and these consultations were important to give us arguments to put on the table.”

Bringing the two major linguistic communities closer together was among the most often repeated themes during the roundtables, including the final one in Ottawa. Participants suggested that the government should promote both official languages as a Canadian value that is rooted in Canada’s identity and history. They also suggested that more efforts be made to promote the benefits of bilingualism as an economic and cultural asset for individuals and society as a whole.

Also suggested was the creation of more opportunities for exchanges and networking between English- and French-speaking Canadians; more second-language learning resources to meet growing demand; and the creation of opportunities to practice one’s second official language outside of school. Supporting the creation and dissemination of minority-language cultural content to the majority-language public was also a common suggestion.

Over and above the important issue of adequate and stable funding, English- and French-language groups prioritized further investments in education and social infrastructure, including schools, school daycares, community and cultural centres and post-secondary institutions. These investments should consider the remoteness, distance and northern context of some communities.

Issues specific to the English-speaking communities of Quebec included building bridges with the Quebec government and working to achieve recognition of the specific realities of English-speaking communities; supporting employability and improving access to employment for young people in these communities — particularly in the regions, so that fewer of them leave; providing greater support for organizations supporting the integration of newcomers for whom English is their first official language spoken; as well as further support for economic development, entrepreneurship and skills recognition.

Other issues discussed included the revitalization of Indigenous languages, the state of the French language in Quebec and linguistic peace; linguistic insecurity, particularly among young people, and community diversity, multiculturalism and plurilingualism.

More than 6,000 Canadians completed an online questionnaire — three times more than the previous consultation on official languages. Of that, more than 1,800 were from Quebec. Half of that number identified themselves as English-speaking and 11 per cent said they were bilingual.

Preliminary results of the online questionnaires indicate that 53 per cent of respondents backed better support for Official Language Minority Communities; 44 per cent supported promotion of official languages as languages for integrating Canadians and new arrivals of diverse backgrounds; and 39 per cent said there should be more ambitious targets and more concrete measures for boosting the bilingualism rate throughout the country.

Respondents noted the advantages of being bilingual were 1) Better job prospects (66 per cent); 2) A greater appreciation and understanding of the other’s culture (42 per cent); and 3) Easier communication among us (35 per cent).

On the best ways to promote second official-language learning, respondents agreed with making regular school second-language programs more effective (57 per cent); supporting learning initiatives in schools, from primary through university levels (43 per cent); and increasing access to second-language immersion programs (40 per cent).

On the best ways to promote the vitality of official-language minority communities, respondents listed 1) Education in the minority language, from early childhood through post-secondary level (62 per cent); 2) Access to quality public services in the language of one’s choice (58 per cent); and 3) Access to quality federal services in the language of one’s choice (43 per cent).

Additionally, more than 90 briefs and other correspondence were submitted by representative and community organizations, individuals, experts and institutions. For preliminary results from the Official Languages consultation, click here. For a list of our community’s expectations for the next action plan on official languages, click here. For more information about the consultations, click here.

GOLDBLOOM AWARD WINNER FATHER JOHN WALSH PUBLISHES AUTOBIOGRAPHY

By Alan Hustak

Father John Walsh, the former pastor of Saint John Brebeuf parish in LaSalle marks the 50th anniversary of his ordination with the launch of his forthright autobiography, God is Calling, Don’t Leave him on Hold.

Perhaps best known as the CJAD talk show host who once served as an Episcopal Vicar of Saint Jean-Longueuil, he continues an active social ministry although he retired five years ago.

“The church in which I minister today is not the same church that it was then and I am not the same person or the same priest,” he writes in his memoirs. “There have been times over the past five decades when I wondered why I remained in the priesthood.”

Walsh, who admits to “disappointments” but “no regrets,” chronicles his progressive ministry over the past 50 years. The book traces his childhood growing up in the Villeray district of Montreal, talks about his decision to go into the priesthood, and details the subsequent studies in Rome and in Israel that shaped his tolerant views.

As a CJAD talk show host he built a faithful listening audience and befriended Jews and Muslims alike with his practical approach to ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue. “Ministry for me has always been a question of multi-tasking, of taking risks. Risk is everywhere,” he writes. “Throughout my ministry the call to serve has meant attempting to do unexpected things. Consequently I have never had only one ministry.”

Walsh has lived through five papacies, celebrated Eucharist at the Vatican with pontiff Saint John Paul II, and tells how each of the popes, beginning with John XXIII, have influenced, inspired and at times frustrated his ministry.

The book is a battle cry for the church to become subversive and to build itself up from the bottom instead of following the top-down hierarchal approach.

“There is a spiritual revolution going on when we realize that the Word of God is subversive, the message of Jesus is subversive, and now as the People of God, the Roman Catholic Church, is becoming subversive,” he says.

God’s message is there inscripture, he says, but few care to listen.

“It is a book that is at once lyrical and meditative, comical and philosophical,” says Peter Stockland, editor of Convivum Magazine. “It is the story of a life lived in eyes open, totally engaged love of Christ’s church. It is in all its layers, Father John Walsh.”

Copies of the book are on sale at the author’s discount for $20 through the office of QCGN or for $24.95 at Paragraphe books on McGill College Avenue.

Reprinted with permission from Le Metropolitain

PETER SCHIEFKE TO CLOSE YOUNG QUEBECERS LEADING THE WAY FORUM

By Lisanne Gamelin
QCGN Youth Coordinator

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Parliamentary Secretary for Youth Peter Schiefke will be on hand for the closing ceremony of the third and final Young Quebecers Leading the Way forum on Sunday, March 12 in Gatineau.

Entitled A Plan for the Future: Quebec Youth and Canada in 2067, the third year of this bilingual project will provide dozens of youth from across the province with an opportunity to offer their views on the significance of youth engagement in shaping the future of their country.

When Schiefke came to our second annual forum at Montreal’s Concordia University last spring, he expressed an interest in coming back to meet with youth and he kept his word. Schiefke will be part of a lineup of special guests, including provincial and federal politicians, who will be on hand to engage with youth.

Our six regional youth coordinators — some of whom are finishing their fall semester — have begun recruiting delegations from their regions and preparing for their first of three regional workshops that will take place on Jan. 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. Our regional coordinators are Anthony Beer, Gaspésie; Citlalli Elizalde, Outaouais; Kelly Lacroix, Abitibi-Témiscamingue; Alice Lam, Greater Montreal area; Guillaume Lévesque, Eastern Townships; and Olivier Mutegetsi, provincial capital region.

Youth can register online and we will put you in contact with your regional coordinator. Act now because some of our delegations are already close to capacity.

The project is open to English- and French-speaking youth between the ages of 15 and 25. Participation requires the attendance of three regional workshops on Jan. 25, Feb. 15, and March 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. (dates and times may vary depending on region) as well as our third annual provincial youth forum that will be held in Gatineau from March 10 to 12, 2017.

Although attending the three workshops is free, a $25 fee for transportation and accommodation will apply this year for attendees from outside the Gatineau area.

Participants must be between the ages of 15 and 25 and be a Canadian citizen.

More details on the Young Quebecers Leading the Way website by clicking here. For additional information, please contact Lisanne Gamelin at lisanne.gamelin@qcgn.ca.

GASPESIAN YOUTH LOOK TO FUTURE AT YOUTH 4 ACTION SUMMIT

Submitted by the Committee for Anglophone Social Action

Seventy-two young leaders from the English-speaking community gathered at the Youth 4 Action Summit in Paspébiac to help shape the future of the region.

Carried out by Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA) and funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Sociétés d’aide au développement des collectivités (SADC), the project has been ongoing for the last 18 months.

During this time, project coordinators Kathy Gallon and Shannon Marsh met with youth in each MRC to hold roundtable discussions and gather information on the five main topics that affect youth in the region — education, employment, community life, bilingualism and identity and belonging. The summit was the culmination of this work.

Designed by young people, for young people, the purpose of the evening was to allow 18 to 35-year-olds to speak up on the issues they cared about by sharing ideas, developing solutions, and engaging in open discussions.

Although priorities differed in each MRC, participants came together to discuss concrete ways for the community to move forward.

CEDEC was a key partner in the event and CEDEC Youth Start-Up Animator, Lori Albert, spoke on the importance of entrepreneurship, including how to deliver an elevator pitch. Many of the participants’ ideas for start-ups were validated by Albert, who felt that several ideas were “doable.”

“Change is possible, and it is only by working together that we can attain a better future for everyone,” commented participant Justin Flowers. “Last night we proved it was possible, now let’s continue to move forward in unity and hope.”

“Great job on the event tonight, this felt like a breath of fresh air,” added Dean Boudreau, commenting that there were “lots of great ideas from the youth and the older people. I would love to see more communities do this; it’s definitely an idea worth sharing.”

Project coordinator Kathy Gallon was overwhelmed with the participation rate, quality of discussions and the positive feedback from participants — not only at the summit but at all of the meetings held throughout the region. “The sense of pride in being an English-speaking Gaspesian was, and is, apparent,” she said.

CASA will now begin work with these young leaders and community partners to create an action plan based entirely on the solutions and ideas that these young leaders have put forward.

GRAND DÉFI CONTEST OPEN TO ENGLISH-SPEAKING STUDENTS FROM GASPÉ AND MAGGIES

Submitted by the Committee for Anglophone Social Action

Entries are now open for the youth entrepreneurship contest Le Grand Défi : Bâtir ma région! The 2016-2017 edition will enable participants from the region’s English-speaking community to participate for the first time.

Students from the elementary, secondary, adult education and trade level are invited to register as soon as they have an idea for a social or entrepreneurial project which can improve their community. They then engage themselves in a project management process with the support of their local Carrefour jeunesse-emploi and an accompanying adult such as a teacher or a member of the community. More than $40,000 will be given out as cash prizes throughout the Gaspé and Magdalen Islands. Entries will be accepted until Jan. 20, 2017.

To improve the participants’ experience even more, the Grand Défi: Bâtir ma région team will offer them new material as of this year. A new “participant’s handbook” will help guide students and their accompanying adult though the project by offering useful information and activities adapted to the students’ age.

As an added perk, the activities proposed in the handbook will help make entries easier for the students wishing to participate in Défi Osentreprendre, a provincial-wide entrepreneurial contest which can offer even more recognition and chances to win more cash prizes.

This year, Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi de La Côte-de-Gaspé, in partnership with the Committee for Anglophone Social Action (CASA) and the Eastern Shores School Board, will take part in a pilot project to extend entries to English-speaking students in the MRC de La Côte-de-Gaspé. This partnership will enable the translation of contest materials such as the website.

Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi de La Côte-de-Gaspé will also benefit from the help of the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC) to ensure the success of this initiative. This pilot project should lead to access region-wide for ESSB students in the 2017-2018 school year.

The contest was created to help integrate entrepreneurship in schools. Participating students carry out a project with a positive impact on their community as well as develop their entrepreneurial skills with the support of local resources. Established in 2012 in the MRC de La Côte-de-Gaspé, the contest has since been opened to students from the MRC of Rocher-Percé, of Avignon, of Bonaventure and of the Madgalen Islands.

Le Grand Défi : Bâtir ma région! is coordinated by the Carrefours jeunesse-emploi MRC La Côte-de-Gaspé, Avignon-Bonaventure and Des Îles; as well as Carrefour Jeunesse Option Emploi Rocher-Percé in partnership with René-Lévesque, des Iles, Chic-Chocs and the Eastern Shores School Boards.

It’s also made possible by the support of major partners including CASA; CEDEC; Défi de l’entrepreneuriat jeunesse; Complice Persévérance scolaire Gaspésie–Les Îles; Réseau de développement social Rocher-Percé; the MRC of Avignon, Bonaventure, of the Gaspé Coast and of Rocher-Percé; Hydro-Québec; the Société d’aide au développement de la collectivité de Baie-des-Chaleurs, of the Gaspé Coast and of Rocher-Percé; the Caisses populaires Desjardins of Secteur Chaleurs, Secteur de la Côte-de-Gaspé, Centre-sud gaspésien and Littoral gaspésien; as well the Collectif action-jeunesse Rocher-Percé and the Groupe en persévérance scolaire GPS des Îles-de-la-Madeleine.