The YMCAs of Québec honour seven peacemakers, including Gregory Charles

Montréal, Wednesday, September 21, 2016 – On this International Day of Peace, the YMCAs of Québec are awarding Peace Medals to exceptional people who are making our society more peaceful. More specifically, the seven laureates are fighting cyberbullying, using theatre to start a dialogue, combating domestic violence, promoting the professional integration of newcomers and creating spaces where young people, in Québec and elsewhere, like in Syria, can learn through play, hockey and music. The Mayor of Montréal, Mr. Denis Coderre, will attend the awards ceremony.

“The whole community benefits from the hard work of the YMCA Peace Medallists who are building a more harmonious society. Our laureates remind us that peace starts with each one of us. More than the absence of violence and conflict, peace is the ongoing work of creating conditions for fairness, inclusion, empathy, security and respect for diversity,” will announce Stéphane Vaillancourt, President and CEO of the YMCAs of Québec, during a gala dinner.

Proceeds from the gala dinner, organized by the Foundation of the YMCAs of Québec, will give young people in YMCA Youth Zones and school perseverance programs opportunities to assert themselves, learn how to make the right choices, resist peer pressure, resolve conflicts, make connections and embrace diversity. Hosted by Alexandre Courteau on the parquet of the Caisse de dépôt du Québec, the event will feature many impressive performances.

Youth Peacemaker – Réfléchis quand tu publies!

Réfléchis quand tu publies! is a tool created by and for young people that helps social media users assert themselves and reflect on the impact of the messages they post online. Sixteen teens from youth centres in Centre-du-Québec launched the project to fight cyberbullying. They are asking both young people and adults who wit­ness or are the targets of an offensive post to respond to it by sharing a link to their website, reflechisquandtupublies.ca.

Volunteer Peacemaker – Jessica Bleuer

Jessica Bleuer has two great passions: theatre and equity. A therapist, educator and diversity consultant, Jessica is involved in many projects related to diversity, inclusion and fairness. Since 2001, she has applied techniques from the Theatre of the Oppressed to promote a dialogue on topics such as xenophobia, racism, homophobia and transphobia. Using art therapy, she brings people together to explore inclusion and diversity in the context of Québec multiculturalism, namely by facilitating initiatives between people from different cultural, religious and linguistic realities.

Local Peace Initiative – Diane Sasson

For the last 21 years, Diane Sasson has been at the helm of the Auberge Shalom as it transitioned from a shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence to a centre offering a range of programs that aim to stop the intergenerational cycle of abuse and to heal wounds that violence has inflicted on children, women, families and communities. Diane Sasson has also worked closely with governments, public and para­public agencies, the police force, media, religious communities and many other groups and organizations to raise awareness and educate people about the impact of domestic violence on women and children.

International Peace Initiative – La Fondation Je veux jouer

Fondation Je veux jouer was founded in in September 2015 by a group of Syrians and Quebecers with backgrounds in audiovisual and digital media, games, architecture, social innovation and the performing arts. The group recognizes the power of play and how important it is to a child’s healthy development. Je veux jouer mobilizes partners in Québec and Syria to create spaces for playing, learning and joy in the most unlikely places, where Syrian children need it the most.

Corporate Peace Initiative – The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal

When more than 3,500 Syrian refugees arrived in greater Montréal, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal (BTMM) wanted to give its fellow citizens an opportunity to more easily integrate into their new community. It offered them a day of information about entering into the Québec job market and the opportun­ity to network with local businesses. The May 30 event brought together more than a hundred Syrian refugees and a hundred business representatives. For several years now, the BTMM has established preferred contacts between Montréal organizations and qualified newcomers to promote their professional integration, allowing newcomers and their families to make a significant contribution to our collective future.

Coup de cœur – Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program – Joé Juneau, Pita Aatami, Maggie Emudluk, Jobie Tukkiapik, Claude Vallières, Danielle Demers

Started by Joé Juneau 10 years ago, the Nunavik Youth Hockey Development Program encourages Inuit youth to stay in school, develop life skills and be healthy. Offered in most Nunavik villages, it now has more than 600 participants. The program uses hockey as a teaching tool in these communities, where 45% of the popula­tion is under the age of 20. The program’s skill-building approach motivates young people to surpass themselves on the ice and in the classroom, which has had significant psychosocial benefits and has helped reduce school dropout and crime rates in Inuit communities.

Honorary Medal – Gregory Charles

Gregory Charles, a piano prodigy, has been a part of the Québec and Canadian media landscape for over three decades. A choirmaster, he founded Le Mondial Choral de Laval, a major choir festival that attracted tens of thousands of spectators during its ten-year run. Gregory Charles also launched the Virtuose television program featuring Canada’s top young classical musicians. A resounding success, the show continues to hold live performances across Québec. His passion for classical music was confirmed when he acquired Radio-Classique, which became La radio des classiques. A devoted peacemaker, Gregory Charles still travels the world for his career and community work to share his love of music, education and young people. He was named Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016 and was recently awarded a Gémeaux prize for hosting Virtuose, a youth TV program.

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About the YMCAs of Québec 

The YMCAs of Québec is a charitable organization that builds stronger communities by providing opportunities for everyone to lead fulfilling, active, healthy and engaged lives. Its 10 YMCA centres, International Language School, Residence, Camp YMCA Kanawana and its 40 service sites across the province are visited each year by more than 120,000 people. The first YMCA in North America was founded in Montréal in November 1851. The YMCAs of Québec is part of the Canadian network of 48 YMCA associations. For more information, visit ymcaquebec.org or our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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Source :

Nathalie Viora,  The YMCAs of Québec

Diane Jeannotte - 514 772-8019 / dianej@djcom.ca  
Diep Truong - 514 436-2121 / diep@exergue.ca

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