Prestigious YMCA Peace Medals were awarded on October 3rd to individuals and organizations that have helped to make Québec a more peaceful place. They were honoured during a gala dinner presented by Desjardins, which brought 500 guests together at the Marché Bonsecours in Montréal. Proceeds from the gala dinner will go towards helping youth in YMCA school perseverance programs and TeenZones to succeed in school and in life.
“The YMCA believes that education is essential to building more harmonious and inclusive communities. Unfortunately, staying in school can be very challenging for several thousands of youth. An event like this encourages at-risk students to stay in school. And it would not be possible without the generous support of our donors and volunteers. When a young person perseveres through their challenges, their whole future becomes brighter, and our entire society wins. Let’s work together for a healthier and more harmonious community, today and tomorrow,” said Stéphane Vaillancourt, President and CEO of the YMCAs of Québec.
“Desjardins is proud to partner with the YMCA and all those who believe in Québec youth and their dreams. We want to provide real support to youth of all backgrounds, by offering them an environment full of memorable experiences that foster their growth. That’s why we’re supporting the YMCA and its important mission during this wonderful evening of sharing,” said Marie-Josée Labelle, National Marketing Manager, Wealth Management and Life and Health Insurance, Desjardins.
Hosted by Gregory Charles—who also received a Peace Medal in 2016—the event recognized the engagement of the following laureates:
Honorary Laureates – Judi Richards and Yvon Deschamps
Truly passionate artists, Judi Richards and Yvon Deschamps have each built an impressive career. But beyond the arts, the couple also shares a strong desire to help others. Both very committed to peace and youth, Judi Richards and Yvon Deschamps have been involved in many different causes over the years, from the Fondation Yvon Deschamps Centre-Sud, to Oxfam, Le Chaînon and the Fondation du CHUM.
Youth Peacemaker – Serena Lopes
A young law student, Serena has been volunteering to build a more harmonious world, namely in the legal field. For example, she accompanies troubled children and families when they appear before Youth Court. With the Cercle de soutien et de responsabilisation du Québec, she also participates in the rehabilitation and empowerment of inmates who are returning to their communities.
Individual for Peace – Mitsiko Miller
A certified coach and trainer, Mitsiko Miller founded ‘Famille en harmonie’ in 2012. This project promotes kindness and offers parents the support they need to develop meaningful relationships with their children based on caring and consistent communication. Mitsiko’s experience in civic action, conflict management, and restorative circles (restorative justice), and her practice of non-violence has helped her to launch this innovative project.
Organization for Peace – ATSA (Cuisine ta ville)
Using a playful and striking approach, ATSA invites artists to create, produce and release transdisciplinary works and events that include interventions, installations, performances and realistic stagings. Their actions are all born out of a desire to raise awareness about social, environmental and heritage issues of great concern. Among other projects, ATSA has created Cuisine ta ville, an event that aims to show the different faces of immigrants and refugees that make up Montréal’s social fabric.
Corporate Peace Initiative – Element AI
Established in Montréal in 2016, Element AI is an important hub in the field of deep learning. Element AI is also known for its partnerships with NGOs such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and UNICEF, and its humanitarian projects. Among these projects, Element AI is developing a technology that combines low-resolution satellite images into affordable, high-quality imagery, which can then be used to locate destroyed villages in Darfur or detect the presence of civilians in conflict zones.
Coup de Cœur – Welcome Collective
The Welcome Collective works with individuals and communities across Montréal to help the most vulnerable asylum seekers gather the essential items they need to live and to integrate into their new homes. Family members, friends, colleagues or even individuals on their own can form a Welcome Group.
Special Recognition – YMCA Alternative Suspension
This program aims to reduce the number of repeated suspensions by giving students an opportunity to turn their suspension into a positive experience that fosters their growth and independence. Developed by the YMCAs of Québec in 1999, the program has become an established dropout prevention model and makes it easier for students to return to their school and social lives. It helps more than 3,000 youth a year.
To relive some of the best moments of this wonderful, inspiring and moving evening, please visit the photo album.