INM Winter School at Dawson a resounding success
Last weekend (March 4-5-6), Dawson hosted the Institut du Nouveau Monde’s Winter School. More than 130 CEGEP and secondary school students and over 60 volunteers and participants came together to engage, discuss and propose solutions to questions facing young people in Quebec today: questions such as violent radicalization, indigenous issues in Quebec, mental health and society, and refugees.
This was the first time the Institut held its Winter School in Montreal and at an anglophone CEGEP.
The opening panel on Friday evening established the theme of the Winter School of Sans Limites with a discussion by Celine Cooper from the Montreal Gazette, Jean-Martin Aussant, Director General of the Chantier sur l’Economie, Martine Desjardins former student leader and candidate for election in the last provincial election, and Michèle Audette, former president of the First Nations Women’s Association of Canada. The panel was moderated by Dorothy Alexandre from TVA.
On Saturday, among the guests providing information and thought-provoking opinions for students were Geoffrey Kelly, Quebec Minister of First Nations, Denise Otis from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Dawson College’s own Kelly Ann Morel, and Samer Majzoub from the Canadian Muslim Federation. Afterwards, the students divided into smaller groups to take on issues of young women and activity, identity and dialogue, electoral reform and how secondary students can acquire the confidence and skills to be active in Quebec society and politics.
On Saturday evening the Winter School brought together not just the Winter School participants, but also members of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) who were holding a parallel event at Concordia University titled Young Quebecers Leading the Way: Quebec Youth Speak about Canada Today.
At an “engaged supper”, students from the Winter School and the QCGN had the opportunity to discuss with a variety of people active in different areas of Quebec Society and Politics, among them Ruth Ellen Brousseau, Member of Parliament for Bethier-Maskinonge, Antoine Côte, President of the Quebec Federation of College Students, Isabelle Marin, Red Cross Coordinator of International Activities and of course, Richard Filion, Director General of Dawson College.
Students continued their work on Sunday morning to produce statements that will be sent to decision-makers and members of society stating their positions coming out their discussions, among them, notably, a text on democratic and electoral reform elaborating how the students see improving the democratic process in Quebec and Canada. The closing Citizen’s Assembly saw students reporting on their experience at the Winter School and expressing their determination to be active and influential members of Quebec society.
Dawson College would like to thank the Institut du Nouveau Monde and the Programming Committee of Louis-Philippe Lizotte (INM), Claudian Beaudoin (INM), Ted Irwin (Dawson College), Chris Bourne (Dawson College), and Law, Society and Justice profile students Christelle Tessono, Cristian Pietrantonio, and Valerie Arenzon for their work in organizing the Winter School. In addition, thanks are due to all the members of the Dawson Community who contributed to making this a signal event, in particular, David Bannout (IST), Carey-Ann Pawsey and Donna Varrica (Communications), and Genevieve Venne (Excelso) for their help, support, and of course, their weekend.