News

The SNJM’s helping hand in Michel Tremblay’s play at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe

The most recent creation by Michel Tremblay is currently being staged at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe until February 3rd. This play takes us back to the world of the author in the fifties, who lived on Fabre Street in Plateau Mont-Royal. Curious about everything and very tenacious, the kid bombards those around him with questions about literature, cinema and ... religion! The various characters among whom are the mother, Nana, the grandmother, the father and the Sister who is the principal of the school, have quite a bit of difficulty answering the incessant questions of young Michel.

The play that has received numerous accolades since its final dress rehearsal, allows Michel Tremblay to portray, in a wonderful way, the society in which he had grown up. Brilliant conversations and dialogues, tinged with humor, innocence and common sense provide an outstanding moment of theater with amazing comedians.

Insignificant child

For the record, it should be noted that the costume designer came to the Marie-Rose Center to make the costume for the Sister who plays the principal of the school. She made it as close as possible to the one worn by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) who, at that time, were very prominent in the neighborhoods of East-end Montreal. Apart from some slight changes to the coif and veil to provide a better view of the actress’s face, the work was well done, based on the comments of the Sisters who have seen the play.

For a résumé of the play written by the comedian Henri Chassé, click here. (video in French only)

For all the details and to buy your tickets, click on this link.

Becoming aware of human trafficking on a daily basis

From January 1st to February 8th, 2018, an awareness campaign with prayer intercessions was orchestrated by the anti-trafficking committee of the SNJM Justice and Peace Network. Sisters, SNJM associates, consecrated laypersons and all those attuned to SNJM values are invited to participate individually or collectively in this process to thwart the phenomenon of human trafficking.

This initiative was inspired by the American Bishops’ invitation of to the faithful to draw attention to the fight against the various forms of trafficking. The project took shape as a schedule of prayer intercessions spread out among the various groups within the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM).

These prayer intercessions can also serve as reflection and awareness of the various aspects of this phenomenon that affects all societies, including Quebec and Canada. It was intended as a calendar, but can be used in a variety of ways and adapted according to circumstances such as suggested intentions during a time of prayer, or to spend a period of reflection at a meeting, etc.

Stand up against human trafficking
 
Here are a few of the intercessions:
 
• For victims of trafficking who can no longer see their families.
• For people searching for missing family members.
• For people working in agriculture and who are being exploited.
• For people who are without resources in another country because of trafficking.
• For young runaways in their vulnerability to sexual exploitation.
• For the broken dreams of scam victims who are subjected to forced labor.
• For those who write letters to the members of government to advocate for more just laws.
 
You will find the bilingual version of this calendar as a PDF file, below. 

A journey into exile…

How can we feel what refugees are experiencing? Can we really understand the dilemmas faced by thousands of refugees around the world? What are the hazards of the migration crisis? These are the points that were discussed on December 9th, during a day of education and raising awareness about the experiences of refugees.

Organized by the Jesuit Refugee Service (Canada), this day evoked strong emotions among the participants while providing more relevant information, than ever before, to help them understand this phenomenon of forced migration.

Quiz

Even before being immersed in a simulation experience to understand how refugees are feeling, the enormity of the situation must be taken into consideration. From your point of view, how many people do you think become refugees, per minute, around the world? 
Has the cat got your tongue? Don’t worry; in this case, you are not alone. The answer is both simple and terrible. The magic number is 24. And yes, there are 24 new refugees per minute, in the world.  The result of this is an even more terrifying number per year: 65 million refugees or displaced persons.

These refugees come primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen in the Middle East; Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea in Africa; Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti, in Central America. 86% of these people instinctively go to emerging countries with medium and low income. Thus, Canada received only 1% of refugees in 2017, or 65,000.

Revealing simulation exercises 

The participants in this education and awareness day were called upon to take part in two specific exercises that could be taken home and repeated with those around them.
 
The first was an invitation to place themselves in the shoes of a refugee, with the obligation to quickly choose 10 belongings that they deemed crucial to bring with them when fleeing. What items would you choose? Then, the animators asked the participants to eliminate four of them. And finally, of the remaining six articles, they could only keep three of them!
 
As pointed out by Julie Tétreault, a co-worker in the SNJM Missions Sector, "There were no right answers since each case was different. Regardless, this was a good illustration of the initial shock experienced by these refugees who, let us not forget, must react swiftly, in a hostile environment.
 
Facilitator Norbert Piché then led the members of the assembly to choose one of the following three starting points: 
 
• Leave for a perilous journey with all the dangers involved, keeping in mind smugglers and the intense uncertainty...
• Opt for a temporary refugee camp with the dangers of rape, AIDS, infections, extreme heat, and without proper sanitation, etc.
• To settle in urban areas with the risk of exploitation and discrimination, and with no possibility of quickly obtaining a work permit, etc.
 
For each option, two people from the group agreed to play the role of these refugees as they leave everything behind.
 
An emotional experience
 
At the same time as these people were playing their role, in each group there was testimony from refugees who had actually experienced these various options. Their stories became more concrete, more touching while giving weight to the simulation experience. As evidenced by Julie Tétreault, it was, to say the least, intense.
 
“It was very moving. I felt alone, abandoned, and my life had little value. I was feeling desperate. "
 
During the second part of the meeting, there was testimony from Miriam, a refugee originating from Syria and from Jean-Marie, the lone survivor from his family, following the Rwanda genocide.
 
« Migration is not a problem but a solution »
 
In his presentation, Jean-Claude Icart, from l’Institut d’études internationales de Montréal (Montreal Institute for International Studies) gave the participants ample information on migration issues and on possible solutions.
 
He spoke about people being victims of the dreadful conditions of their environment and of being stateless. He also highlighted the draft of the "Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees", planned for 2018 at the UNO, from which the United States has recently withdrawn. 
 
From the wealth of information revealed during this meeting, a sentence from the Secretary General of the UNO, Antonio Guterres, really resonated with the group from the Mission Sector. “Migration is a pressing global issue that should not be viewed solely as a problem, but rather as a potential solution to many of the challenges we face today. It is inevitable and will not stop."
 
Among the participants, in addition to Julie Tétreault, were the following representatives from the Mission Sector: Sr. Jacqueline Aubry, Sr. Hélène Harvey and Miquelina Salva, secretary.
 
Group photo: From left to right, we see Miquelina Salva, Hélène Harvey, Julie Tétreault and Jacqueline Aubry

ANOTHER LOOK AT RELIGIOUS LIFE- Part 2

Opening up to other horizons… House of Peace

As you know, in recent years, I have had the opportunity to live at the House of Peace in Manitoba with women who come from different countries and diverse religious traditions. It is an unforeseen grace to be able to live together respecting differences and recognizing the richness of the other. Day after day, we build bridges that unite us and remove barriers that separate us.

For this to happen, I had to physically leave the people I love, experience a great deal of insecurity, and be willing to learn a language other than my mother tongue. I had to love without expectations and to accept my vulnerability of not always being able to respond to expressed needs or to understand the needs of others because we do not speak the same language. On the other hand, we all speak the language of compassion and communion and this is what unites us. Without knowing it in advance, I left my comfort zone to open myself to something greater and more human.

Creating the Future of Religious Life

These experiences lead me to believe in religious life. They give me the courage to create tomorrow’s future and to take the risks needed in order to respond to the needs of our world. When fear arises and the challenge seems unrealistic, I rely on my faith, knowing that God has always been present in the past, that God is present today, and that God will be present in the future. I sincerely believe that we can still undertake a deep reflection, surrendering to the Holy Spirit who will certainly know how to guide us. Do we have the courage to let the Spirit act and destabilize us once again? Yes, I am convinced that we will let the Spirit do this in the near future.

Huguette Fleurant, SNJM

ANOTHER LOOK AT RELIGIOUS LIFE- Part 1

My Experience in Santa Cruz, California

Last winter, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation from a group of Sisters from the U.S.- Ontario Province to join them in order to get to know each other better, to create solidarity among ourselves and to reflect together on the future of religious life. This gathering has existed for twelve years and brings together Sisters of our Congregation who entered the community after 1970. 

The meeting took place in Santa Cruz and included 28 Sisters from Canada, Peru and U.S. - ON. As you can well imagine, we too are concerned about the future of our SNJM community. This gathering was skillfully led by Sr. Joan Stedman from the Congregation of Holy Cross. 

The sharing in small groups was riveting because the questions were well focused and clear. We were asked to answer the following questions: What is the essence, the distinctiveness of religious life today? What sets us apart from others?

Another key moment was learning about the three dimensions of leadership (canonical, relational and organizational). Following this, we were asked to gauge where we stood personally, by sharing our strengths and our limitations. Sisters Lynda Haydock and Guadalupe Guajardo then shared their leadership experience at the general and provincial levels.

A video, How Wolves Change Rivers, raised a lot of questions for me regarding our SNJM future. If your curiosity has been aroused, you can watch it on Google, click on this link which is easy to access, or simply type in How Wolves Change Rivers. If wolves have been able to change the ecosystem of a park, just imagine everything we could succeed in changing.

Before leaving, we also took the time to answer another question that called for a commitment on our part. The question was: In light of the challenges to be addressed in my ministry, my religious, social and political life, how do I feel called to respond, what action can I take?

We ended our session with a long meditation-contemplation that was very nourishing. The next meeting is scheduled for July 2019.

The Testimony of Our Predecessors

The period in which we are currently living is not something unique or new. I am convinced that an institution is often confronted with moments of crisis, anxiety, questioning and transition. 

When I think of the death of Mother Marie-Rose, the Sisters probably asked the same questions that we are asking today. What will become of us? Who will be able to assume appropriate leadership in this time of transition? Who will bring us together, unite us in mission? 

I continued my reflection by reading two books, one concerning the life of Sister Veronique-du-Crucifix (The Hope of the Harvest) and the other about the life of Sister Thérèse-de-Jésus (Called to Cast Fire). I was greatly impressed by their boldness in moving the community forward, in making courageous decisions to ensure the survival of the community. In the face of adversity and troubling times, they stood firm, they stood tall and they took risks.

Just like those who preceded us, the delegates at the last General Chapter affirmed their faith in the future of religious life. I share this faith but I see religious life expressed and lived according to different structures that would enable us to respond appropriately to the needs of our world. 

Pope Francis invited religious communities to open their doors wide and to change their structures in order to better accomplish the mission to which they are called.

 

A dream 

Sometimes I dream that a group of Sisters convinced of the future of religious life will get together to reflect and to consider the following questions: If Mother Marie-Rose came to one of our meetings on the future of religious life, to what needs would she respond? What cries from powerless and oppressed people would she hear? What signs of the times would call out to her? To what mission would she invite us?

We are sure to find in Mother Marie-Rose's responses an invitation to take action regarding the refugee crisis, to accompany people in their thirst for meaning and spirituality, to be open to interreligious dialogue, to protect our environment, to open our doors to others in order to carry out our mission and to learn to live together.

I am convinced that if we respond to these few needs of today, young people will come to join us and pioneer communities will thus develop.

Huguette Fleurant, S.N.J.M.

May peace be with her

Development and Peace Campaign

Two formation sessions for the new fall campaign for Development and Peace with the theme "Women at the Heart of Peace" took place recently at Maison Jésus-Marie and Résidence Marie-Rose-Durocher. These sessions organized by Sister Phyllis Douillard and Mrs. Dorothy Guha, both members of the organization, and assisted by Sister Jeanne Dagenais of the Solidarity-Justice Committee, helped to draw attention to the positive influence of women.

At Maison Jésus-Marie, a celebration of the Word, led by Sister Jeanne Dagenais, set the tone for the meeting during which the work of numerous women of faith, agents of peace in the world, was highlighted.
 
“… supporting women is supporting peace”

The formation session followed the same scenario in both residences. After a warm welcome to the Sisters and Associates present, the audience was invited to share on the meaning of peace, taking into account each one’s experience. Small group discussions and the plenary session provided a better understanding of the participants' perceptions.

In the next segment, three Sisters representing the three peacemakers who were profiled in the Development and Peace booklet, spoke of their experiences of peace.

To increase the participants’ knowledge, Sister Phyllis completed the session by disclosing a wealth of information stressing the crucial role of women in conflict prevention and peace building. It is unfortunately realized that women's expertise is largely underestimated and that they are constantly excluded from formal peace processes. In addition, their organizations suffer from chronic underfunding, which impedes their growth and their positive contribution.

Relevant data… 

• Women contribute to reducing violence
A mere increase of 5% of women's presence in Parliament results in a State being five times less likely to resort to violence in an international crisis.
 
• Women strengthen peace building 
Whenever women participate in drawing up a peace accord, it is 35 % more likely to last at least 15 years. 
 
• Women contribute to maintaining peace 
The risk of the resurgence of a conflict is almost nil when 35 % of parliamentarians are women.
 
Let us act for peace
 
To give meaning and depth to this educational process, a ritual consisting of a song and a dance called on the participants to share in this peace movement. 
 
The meeting ended with a call to take action alongside women and women’s organizations who are working to build a more just and peaceful world.
 
The suggestion made was to sign the Development and Peace - Caritas Canada Action Card  asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to support women and women’s organizations who are working for peace, and to adopt a concrete strategy and a specific timeline for reaching a level of public development assistance which represents 0,7% of the gross revenue. 
 
May we, also, be at the heart of peace!
 
 
For further information on the Development and Peace Campaign

SNJM fall gathering under the theme: “Open to Transformation”

On the occasion of the first provincial gathering of the new season, the members of the SNJM Provincial Leadership Team unveiled the theme for the year: "Open to Transformation".

After having been called, during the last two years, to “open doors to the future and to Life”, current circumstances lend themselves perfectly to this meaningful theme, explained Sister Denise Riel, the Provincial Animator. 

Sister Denise specified the reasons for this choice, especially because of:

• The numerous losses that we experience in our daily lives through: aging, the all-too-numerous deaths, the changing of residences, etc.
• Various events around us, such as the arrival of refugees, ecological disasters, violence, corruption, etc. 
 
“These are all situations which call us to be “open to transformation”, she said.

 

Three priorities 

Three people spoke about experiencing difficult situations that have been a source of transformation in their lives. These testimonies, consistent with truth and hope, led to reflection and small-group discussions.

In the plenary, based on the testimonies and discussions, the participants confirmed the relevance of the chosen theme at this point in the history of the Congregation.

The members of the Provincial Leadership Team then presented the three priorities for developing this theme, inviting each one to embrace openness to transformation in their daily lives:

 

• Another look at religious life
• One more step towards immigrants and refugees
• Green communities in the making
 
The meeting continued with a ritual inviting people to benefit from the beginning of a new year to recognize God’s gift in their personal and community history and to remain open to the future. 

At the time of the Sending Forth on Mission, a handout was given to each with the message: “Let us allow God to transform us and renew our minds.”   (Romans 12,2)

Light refreshments served at the end of the meeting contributed to socializing and discussions. Based on the energy that emerged, it was a successful meeting. 

Photos - Sisters Gisèle Lalande and Pat O’Neill

Moments of reuniting and of gratitude in Saint-Bruno

In September, Saint Bruno Parish celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding with the theme “175 years, something to celebrate!” The Eucharistic Celebration presided by Bishop Claude Hamelin, Auxiliary Bishop of the Saint-Jean-Longueuil Diocese, took place in an atmosphere of serenity where tribute was paid to the “women and men of yesterday and today, committed to following Christ, and who have  made Saint Bruno Parish what it continues to be today” said pastor, Father Michel Boutot.

During the Offertory Procession, Sister Aline Hébert, a teacher for several years at Montarville School and at the Trinitarians, presented a flower in the name of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. It was a way of highlighting the important contribution of the Congregation that served in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville in many different ways, beginning in 1918.

Besides the presence of several Sisters at Rabastalière and Montarville Schools, we must mention those Sisters who came to teach music. From among them, Sisters Françoise Lafortune and Luce Boyer were present.

In addition to work in the education sector, of course there was also parish work in which the Sisters were extensively involved. In particular, we think of Sister Luce Boyer who served on the liturgy committee for twenty years. Both Sister Thérèse Lemay, principal of Montarville School, and Sister Line Gratton worked in the field of education and also worked as volunteers in the parish for many years.

 

Testimonials of gratitude

The festivities continued and provided an opportunity to renew acquaintances during a reception following the Mass. Sisters Aline Hébert, Luce Boyer and Françoise Lafortune, representatives of the Congregation at this celebration, greatly enjoyed this moving experience.

Sister Luce Boyer was approached by the parents of a student, who today is a judge, and reminded her of how music education has always served their son well throughout his life, including bringing him moments of relaxation in stressful situations. 

Several participants voiced their gratitude to the Sisters and were quick to convey the importance of the education they had received and the training offered for their life paths. 

Without a doubt, these moments were delightful for the three Sisters who had the chance to talk about remarkable times from another era. It was also an opportunity for them to recall anecdotes that took them back to living conditions very different from those of today.

And so, Sister Francoise Lafortune, who was on her first mission as a music teacher in 1965, remembered that for lack of space, she had to sleep in her music room.

These few facts allow us to better comprehend the many aspects of the term "vocation". Other days, other ways…

See the photo album - Photos : Michel Lanctôt

Mother Marie-Rose inspires the composer Airat Ichmouratov

At the opening of its 32nd season, the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra (OSDL) presented the world premiere of Symphony No. 1 "On the Ruins of an Old Fortified Castle", created by the composer Airat Ichmouratov, an “adopted” long-time  resident of Longueuil. This symphony pays tribute to both Charles II Le Moyne of Longueuil and Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

The first movement of this creation by the Russian born composer is a musical portrait of the eldest son of the founder of Longueuil. "At first, the timpani and the bass drum mimic the distant sound of the war drums of the indigenous peoples after which a theme, with horns playing, conjures up the image of the baron. Further on, Ichmuratov identifies himself with the heroes.”  Then, added to this are “his own astounding memories as an immigrant ... "*

A joyful ‘scherzo’ (vigorous, playful composition) follows in the second movement. Here, the composer describes Longueuil as it is today, with its celebrations, its active lifestyle in which children’s games, the noise of the traffic and the night life are intermingled. 

Gentleness and strength of character

With the Adagio maestoso, Airat Ichmouratov brings us back to the 19th century. He pays tribute to “Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, another great figure in Longueuil’s history.” * Born Eulalie Durocher (1811-1849), Mother Marie-Rose founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1843.

“The Adagio reflects this Sister’s gentleness as well as her strength of character and her humble lifestyle in the convent. In this portrait, Ichmouratov superimposes a portrait of his own mother, who accidentally disappeared while he was working on this movement."*

This symphony’s finale takes us back to the events mentioned above: "celebrations, battles, and moments of nostalgia, ending with a celebration of contemporary life in Longueuil which is presently joyful and peaceful.”*

This world premiere took place as part of the opening concert of the 32nd season of the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil. With the aim of highlighting the 360th anniversary of the City of Longueuil, Marc David, artistic director and principal conductor, gathered some of Longueuil's great performers.

In addition to the work of the composer Airat Ichmouratov, presented in the last part of this concert, we find in the opening act the Fantaisie sur L’Heptade by Neil Chotem, inspired by the mythical album of Serge Fiori and Harmonium. André Moisan followed with his remarkable Clarinet Concerto by Mozart.

A world-renowned composer

Note that the composer Airat Ichmouratov studied clarinet before obtaining his diploma in 1996. Following several tours in Europe, he moved to Montreal in 1998 where, in 2005, he obtained a master's degree and then a doctorate in conducting from the Université de Montréal. He was Assistant Conductor of the Orchestre de Chambre Les Violons du Roy and Resident Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Québec before joining the Klezmer Kleztory Band. He demonstrates his many talents, playing the clarinet, and composing and performing arrangements. He has toured extensively throughout the world with this group, and his music is performed by many ensembles and musicians in a number of countries. He has been Associate Composer at the Canadian Music Center since 2010.

*Program from the opening concert of the OSD, September 28, 2017

Mother Marie-Rose Durocher named "Secondary Patron" of the Parish of Saint-Arsène

Recently, during the 10 o’clock Mass, celebrated by Robert Gagné, a Sulpician priest, Mother Marie-Rose Durocher was officially recognized as "Secondary Patron" of the parish of St-Arsène. The parish, located in the Montreal borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, had issued an invitation to parishioners in the weekly bulletin, under the title "We are celebrating Marie-Rose Durocher".

For this special celebration, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary from Marie-Rose-Durocher Residence, across the street from the parish, provided the singing during the Mass dedicated to their foundress.  Sister Monique Thériault accompanied them on the organ.

Some of the regular parishioners came to share the joy of the Sisters who were present. They were also joined by Sister Jacqueline Aubry, from the SNJM Mission Sector, who came with a friend who is a member of Les Soeurs Missionnaires du Christ-Roi.

During the Eucharistic celebration, Sister Denise Mercier gave a brief biography of Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, and Sister Louise Danis read the prayer intentions.

At present, the statue of Mother Marie-Rose can be found in the sanctuary of the church while awaiting its transfer to the alcove that is reserved for her.

See the photo album

A way to share the SNJM mission in today's world

15 years of partnership

The “Chemins de vie” organization launched its 15th anniversary year during a festive cocktail reception on September 14th. It was a great opportunity for remembering how far this organization has come, along with highlighting its own trademark: "the warm and unconditional welcome of all those who want to pursue or undertake a spiritual journey," said Yvonne Demers, one of the members of the board of directors.

The gathering was the scene of many heartfelt testimonials from people who have benefited and/or who have decided to become actively involved, won over by this organization’s mode of operation, its vision and its contribution to the development and self-fulfillment of each individual.

It is therefore not surprising that the Quebec SNJMs have been partners with this organization for 15 years, since its mission and its values connect with both components of their educational mission: the full development of the human person through education and commitment to social solidarity.

Sharing the SNJM mission in today’s world

The Acts of the 2016 Chapter are “bursting with calls to open the doors onto Life”. They encourage "dynamism to keep our mission alive to the end. Partnerships with organizations and groups which embody the same values and the same concerns as ours, help us to continue our mission in new ways, reported an article in the Publication of the Quebec Provincial Leadership Team (November 2016).

This partnership is expressed through financial support but also by the commitment of the Sisters. Thus, Sister Denise Riel, co-founder of the organization, was coordinator for ten years. She continues to be committed to it by facilitating the workshop ‘Spirituality, a Way of Life’ and by being a member of the small group that meets on Sunday to pray and share around the Eucharist.

Sister Françoise Lanthier welcomes people and facilitates small groups who share the Word. Sister Constance Létourneau individually accompanies people who are spiritually searching. Sister Marie-Paule Demarbre is a member of the Board of Directors, while other SNJM Sisters participate in one or other of the witness talks.

Finding our mission, discovering God…

In her presentation, recalling some motivating factors that encourage people to join “Chemins de vie”, Sister Constance Létourneau emphasized the desire to "find our mission", to learn to pray, to face difficult situations and to discover God. According to her, these are reasons that legitimize her partnership and that of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

"I find the "Chemins de vie" family to be so generous, lively, creative and adaptable to the needs of our ever-changing society. Year by year, new projects that are always more interesting than the others and are aimed at meeting new challenges are emerging."

In the light of this testimony and other testimonies, we can only hope that this year of festivities will bring dynamism and energy to all the people involved in “Chemins de vie”, members of the team, participants, partners, and donors.

See the photo album  

Mobilization of the SNJMs regarding immigrants and refugees

Taking the pulse of the situation on the South Shore 

Unable to remain insensitive to the global crisis of migration and the polarization of anti-immigration statements, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) unveiled their corporate stand regarding migrants and refugees. They accompanied their words with action by seeking the collaboration of organizations to provide a profile of the situation on the South Shore, in a context where the number of families of refugees and asylum seekers has increased exceptionally over the last two years.

“We realize the importance of becoming aware ourselves and of raising the awareness of all people to the reality being played out in the field so as to put things in perspective," said Sister Denise Riel, SNJM Provincial Animator. In the current context, the SNJM Provincial Animator for Quebec wants the citizens of the South Shore "to discover the small and large successful experiences of the various organizations as well as the challenges which we all face: migrants, refugees and we, as a host society.”

500 asylum seekers on the South Shore

Last summer, the massive arrival of people crossing the border seeking Canada’s protection necessitated the setting up of several emergency shelter sites, including the one in Boucherville, called Havre Providence. With the collaboration of the CISSS-ME Emergency Response Teams, this site welcomed nearly 500 people from August to mid-September.

During this same period, Carrefour le Moutier provided support to more than 400 people including 111 families. "We mainly supported these people so they could attain housing, material resources, food assistance, work permit applications and school enrollment," said Amalia Suarez, Project Manager for the asylum seekers at Carrefour le Moutier, who hailed the openness and the invaluable collaboration of Longueuil property owners in offering housing to these newcomers.

State sponsorship - Syrian Refugees

While Canada welcomed more than 45,000 Syrian refugees in 2015-16, Canadian state sponsorship plans to welcome 9,000 refugees in 2017 * (including 1,700 in Quebec). Admitting that the situation last year was exceptional, Nasrin Neda, a benefactor at the Maison internationale de la Rive-Sud (MIRS), emphasized the significant challenges facing refugees. "Depending on their history and circumstances, it is difficult for these refugees to become autonomous and independent within a year. Developing language skills and understanding the habits and customs of the host society are not easy for the majority of refugees, Syrians or others, who have little schooling and many of whom come from rural areas. "

Even though government assistance ceases after 12 months, MIRS continues its work with immigrant and refugee clients. To ensure this continuity, the organization diversifies its sources of funding and is constantly strengthening its bank of volunteers so as to respond to the ongoing needs. Past experience has shown that it requires time and support to enable immigrants and refugees from the state sponsorship program to take charge of their own lives and become active members of society.

 

 

Private sponsorship: autonomous refugee 

The mobilization of the public in the face of the Syrian crisis made it possible to welcome to Quebec 4,500 refugees through private sponsorship, an approach that is unique in the world. On the South Shore of Montreal, numerous private sponsorship committees were established in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Lambert, Saint-Hubert and Longueuil. The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) contributed to the establishment of the private sponsorship committee, ''Chemins d'accueil de Longueuil'', which hosted two Syrian families of 3 and 4 people, respectively.

The young Marcel Alhanout, 18, also witnessed to this desire to integrate and to take advantage of the chance offered to give them a new life. Pointing out the daily challenges which all the members of his family are facing, Marcel said he was happy to live in Quebec. "The first thing that surprised us and that we really appreciated was the freedom that we find here. We are very grateful to our welcoming society."

"In one year, the first family of Syrian refugees has become autonomous. The husband has found a job while his wife is continuing her training in French and her studies so as to soon begin a new career," said Jacques Morin, coordinator of the group Chemins d’accueil de Longueuil. The second family, who arrived last winter, relies on two young adults who are already working while continuing level 3 of the francization program this fall. According to the speaker, beyond the refugees’ first objective to quickly become independent, the active commitment of volunteers to their committees and the strength of their network of contacts contribute significantly to the success of private sponsorships that are attracting the attention of several researchers and organizations, even European ones.

Admitting that they do not yet know how their commitment to migrants and refugees will take shape in the future, the SNJMs want to "collaborate with others to build a better society where interculturality is possible and where everyone has the right to live fully," concluded Sister Denise Riel.
A few facts 
• 22.5 million refugees worldwide*
• 1.2 million of them are in danger of death*
• Canada sponsored 9000 refugees in 2017*
• Canada needs 300 000 immigrants per year to renew its population*
• Within 5 to 10 years, refugees resettled in a welcoming society become full-fledged citizens and contribute to society in numerous ways*
• Quebec has welcomed 17 205 asylum seekers since the beginning of the year (5525 in 2016)**
• 500 asylum seekers between August and mid-September at the Havre-Providence shelter in Boucherville**
 

 

To see the Photo album

About the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM)

The first Congregation of teachers founded by a Canadian in Longueuil in 1843, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) are currently working in five countries. In Quebec, they are responsible for the establishment of many renowned institutions including the Vincent-d'Indy School of Music and Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert, and are known as well for their significant presence in almost all schools in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve-Mercier districts. After taking corporate stands on "Water is a human right and public good" and against "Human trafficking", the SNJMs recognized the urgent need to declare their solidarity and to give public testimony by acting in favor of migrants and refugees. In addition to participating in the Chemins d’accueil de Longueuil Committee, the Congregation is also participating in the private sponsorship committee from Saint Monica Parish in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal.

About Carrefour le Moutier

Founded in 1969, the Carrefour le Moutier is a community-based front-line organization with a regional focus that, by the nature and quality of its various services, contributes to the promotion of the person, the prevention of psychological distress as well as social inclusion. Among its front-line services, the organization is mandated by the Ministry of Immigration for the reception and integration of newcomers, with a specific component for accompanying asylum seekers in their search for housing.

About the Maison internationale de la Rive-Sud (MIRS)

Created in 1975, the Maison Internationale de la Rive-Sud is an organization entirely dedicated to supporting newcomers, including public refugees (supported by the State). Its action focuses mainly on support for the settlement, francization, employability and integration into the host society. The organization has developed strong expertise and has established itself as a key player in the field of integration of migrants and refugees on the South Shore. In light of this, it participates in several round tables. It is the only organization on the territory of the South Shore, to be mandated by the Immigration Department to accompany State-sponsored refugees.

About the group Chemins d’accueil de Longueuil

Initially, the group consisted of a core group of 13 individuals from different backgrounds, including religious communities, representatives from the St-Jean-Longueuil Diocese, representatives from community groups and some citizens sensitive to the cause. Since then, some 30 people have been contributing in various ways to support the two sponsored families. Chemin d'accueil de Longueuil is one of the 12 groups involved in private sponsorship in the territory of the Diocese St-Jean-Longueuil.

* Jean-Nicolas Beuze, Representative in Canada of The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), interviewed by the Le Devoir newspaper, July 7, 2017

Other articles in the section News
The SNJM’s helping hand in Michel Tremblay’s play at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe
Becoming aware of human trafficking on a daily basis
A journey into exile…
ANOTHER LOOK AT RELIGIOUS LIFE- Part 2
ANOTHER LOOK AT RELIGIOUS LIFE- Part 1
May peace be with her
SNJM fall gathering under the theme: “Open to Transformation”
Moments of reuniting and of gratitude in Saint-Bruno
Success of the exhibition on Congregations of Women Religious at Maison Saint-Gabriel
Mother Marie-Rose inspires the composer Airat Ichmouratov