It was after a lady had read on Facebook a word from my son about this blog that I met Pierre. He is her boss at the Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi Ahuntsic-Bordeaux-Cartierville (CJE-ABC). This is how encounters happen sometimes today!
On the rainy day when I met Pierre, he shared his little office with the bike he rides every day for much of the year to commute between his home in the Plateau and work.
Pierre knows the social fabric and the various stakeholders in the district very well, since he has been working in the area for nearly 25 years. A native of Thetford Mines, where he spent his youth, he studied at CEGEP Lionel-Groulx and completed a degree in sociology at UQAM. A job he held, while still a student, at the Bureau de concertation jeunesse in Villeray, was to have a significant impact on the rest of the course of his professional life.
It is thanks to this experience that he was selected as the first salaried employee of the Centre des jeunes St-Sulpice by a group of women seeking to help young kids living in low-income housing projects. Pierre contributed to the development of this youth centre. This organization’s goal is to promote social integration and academic success of young people whose horizon often seem limited to a radius of a few blocks outside of which they feel excluded.
After a few years in this position, he was among the first members of the staff who put together the Carrefour Jeunesse-emploi (CJE). At the beginning of the mandate of Jacques Parizeau as premier, a will had emerged at the highest levels to duplicate in government agencies the operation models of popular action groups to deal with social problems. The reality was naturally more complex than the fine principles suggested. It was quite a challenge to start base-up and learn to speak a language the officials who held budgets would understand and accept!
The CJE was still able to make its way. Having acquired organization and management skills during this process, Pierre is now General Manager of the CJE-ABC. The organization's mission is to support young people in their efforts to find work and go back to school. Like many other public funded organizations however, its mission must be renegotiated with each change of government and each restructuring wave.
Pierre finds his motivation to persevere in community service for 25 years in the success of young people. He mentions the case of a boy he knew from the age of six at the Centre des jeunes St-Sulpice. Having met him recently, he was glad to see he had become, at thirty years’ old, a physical education teacher and a full-fledged resident of the borough.