The history of Dawson College is rich, imbued with a firm commitment to the community it serves. It received its charter in 1968 with a mandate to establish Quebec’s first English-language CEGEP.

On September 23, 1969, Dawson opened its doors to its first 1,500 students. Many thousands have followed in their footsteps. Today, Dawson is the largest college in the Quebec network, with 10,000 full- and part-time students enrolled in 25 programs.

A diversity of languages and cultures is represented among its students, faculty and staff, reflecting the multicultural character of Montreal itself. Dawson’s existence has been marked by triumph and tragedy, by innovation and daring, and an indomitable spirit that has persisted throughout its history, from a multi-campus collection of people, programs and buildings to its present incarnation, consolidated under one roof in a magnificent heritage building between Sherbrooke and De Maisonneuve at Atwater.

The College has risen to the challenges of each successive generation that has passed through its doors. Since the move in 1988 to the old Mother House, Dawson has gained the respect of the Montreal community as a valuable partner in education.

In September 2006, the College suffered a senseless attack on its students, faculty and staff and its building; first-year student, Anastasia De Sousa lost her life and several others were injured. Although Dawson emerged united, strong and determined to learn from its experience, the College also wished to create a fitting memorial to Anastasia’s spirit and to the experience the members of the Dawson community had survived.

A plaque or a monument could not capture the essence of a young life cut short or the energy of an educational institution as vibrant as Dawson College. On the first anniversary of the tragedy, the College vowed to build an ecological Peace Garden that would bring together a number of elements: peace and remembrance, teaching and learning, which is our academic mission, environmental renewal, beauty and serenity. The flowering almond planted in Anastasia’s memory that day would be the anchor of the Peace Garden.

Work was begun in September 2010 on the physical configuration of the Garden and community planting events have taken place over several days throughout the autumn. It is already clear that this Garden will become a vital part of the community for Dawson and Montreal.

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Last Modified: February 11, 2016