Rural Leadership for Women
West Quebecers partnered with many organizations in the region and across Quebec in a project spearheaded by QCGN and sponsored by Status of Women Canada to offer an opportunity to young women to enhance their business skills and, at the same time, conduct fundraising for a community organization of their choice. Over the summer of 2009, the young women attended 10 seminars provided by partners in the project and delivered via video conference network at each of the locations. The meetings were held primarily in Campbell's Bay and some at the CEDEC in Shawville.
The team of young women collected recipes from the Pontiac, combined them with local stories and historic photos making a cookbook to reflect the community in which they live. The cookbook is like no other; it is divided into three sections (from the farm, from the bush, and liquid gold)! The cookbook sells for $10.00 and has raised $3,000 so far for Bouffe Pontiac, a food bank in the Pontiac. The goal is to reach $5,000. Cookbooks are available through West Quebecers office.
These women were dedicated and put to use the skills they had learned from the seminars; e.g., grant proposal writing, promotional skills, budgeting, planning, scheduling, etc.
They achieved the impossible by physically creating a cookbook from beginning to end in not much more than a month. It was a delight to watch these dedicated young women grow and gain confidence over the space of a few summer months.
West Quebecers was granted funding by Canadian Heritage under its Linguistic Duality Program to (PCH) and to conduct student workshops in a field of their choice. The goal was for the students to develop skills that they could use in the workplace and at the same time enhance their French-language skills and, thereby, become more employable in Quebec. Three workshops were held-carpentry, audio engineering and social activism. In all cases, the mentoring of these workshops was an asset to the project and proved to be of great benefit to the participants. They had opportunities to ask "How did you get your first job?", "Why did you choose to ...." What advice would you give?" A public presentation of these workshops was made at West Quebecers Early Bird Spring Sale in April.
This course took place in the woodworking shop at Philemon Wright High School and was facilitated by Eric Bordeleau, Shop teacher.
It was decided that students would make a unique Adirondack chair out of pine in the 12 hours allotted to the program (over two weekends) because this project would allow them to use a variety of power and hand tools and challenge their skills. Students worked in groups of two or three. To complete the project students needed to work cooperatively in teams, schedule their time, work in a step-by-step fashion (no short cuts), learn to make precision cuts, attend show up at each session (unless unavoidable), learn about and follow health and safety procedures. The resulting chairs (some had been stained) were masterful.
The Wisdom of Solomon was required to divide five chairs among more than 12 students (male and female). It was a delight to see the honed negotiating skills, grace and altruism that made this workable for all concerned.
This workshop took place at CEGEP Heritage College. The theme of this workshop was "Civic Participation: How and Why to Get Involved". Participants discussed effective means of making a difference in social and political causes they care about. As case studies, participants discussed some of the hot topics of the day and how they could take action on them.
The mentor Ilona Dougherty shared some of her experiences founding Apathy is Boring and how that organization educates young people, in particular, on how to become socially and politically active.
This course took place at Philemon Wright High School in the school music room with the support of the music teachers Christine Rusu and Phil Holmes and the instructor Marty Sobb, a professional recording artist who had worked with Avril Lavigne, Snoop Dogg and members of The Guess Who. Marty spoke about his real life experience in the field. Although some of the participating students had music recordings made in a professional studio, they had not been involved in the engineering aspects; they were merely clients of the studio.
This workshop covered two full days on a weekend and gave students the opportunity to prepare quality recordings from start to finish on their own-a thrilling experience for them. Those who wished also had the additional experience of a tour of Raven Street Studios (Ottawa-Gatineau's premiere professional studio). Students worked cooperatively and communication in both English and French flowed in this workshop. Their videos are on You Tube.
In 2009-10 The Regional Association of West Quebecers (RAWQ) has prioritized addressing youth issues in the English-speaking community. To this end, it will be forming a Youth Committee to identify projects and other actions that can be undertaken to address these issues. If you are interested in getting involved in this committee.
RAWQ's 2006-10 Strategic Plan identified the following goal as one of the association's priorities:
Encourage youth to be active participants in the West Quebec community now and in the future.
This goal recognizes that the regeneration and future vitality of vulnerable minority communities rests with youth. If young English-speakers are to remain active community members in the future they must be engaged by community leaders today. RAWQ must therefore consider in all of its activities the following realities that young people face:
- Young people are increasingly leaving the region for economic and other opportunities located elsewhere.
- Young people do not all share a sense of belonging to the English-speaking community. Their self identity is often divided among the Francophone and other cultural groups (as a result of intermarriage).
- The level of bilingualism among many young people limits their employment and other economic opportunities in West Quebec. Those young people who are sufficiently bilingual to be successful in the region may perceive otherwise.
- Encourage youth to actively participate in community organizations and institutions.
- Ensure youth have access to information and services (including education) in English to allow them to succeed in the majority French-speaking community.
- Encourage bi-culturalism so that English-speaking youth can actively and comfortably interact with the majority French-speaking community.
2008 Study on Issues of Concern to English-speaking Youth in West Quebec
As a contribution to the Quebec Community Group Network's provincial youth consultation (See Creating Spaces) The Regional Association of West Quebecers consulted 114 young English-speakers between the ages of 16 and 30 to capture their views on their lives in West Quebec. The study was primarily aimed at generating an understanding of why young English-speakers leave the Outaouais, why they stay and how their lives in the community could be improved.
QCGN Youth Standing Committee
RAWQ has been an active member of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) Youth Standing Committee since its inception. The following links provide more information on the provincial youth activities of the QCGN:
- QCGN Youth Initiative Page
- Creating Spaces: Strategic Directions for English-speaking youth in Quebec - Major study on province wide youth issues that includes input from youth in West Quebec.
- English-speaking youth of Quebec CBC Montreal portal
- Join the Young Quebec Facebook group