By reading the words of Richard Adam published in the Ideas page in mid-December, I could only share his observations. Indeed, the Saint-Michel district is sorely lacking in adequate infrastructure.
Let us recall two well-documented facts: on the one hand, local services are part of the integration factors that can help young people to find an anchor in order to become full citizens; on the other hand, acts of violence occur more in underprivileged areas where poverty is rife. This is why it is important that a major investment be made in neighborhoods such as Saint-Michel. This would benefit residents, but also the entire population of Montreal.
That being said, as director of Vivre Saint-Michel en santé, I would like to emphasize the vitality of community and cultural organizations that work to strengthen the social fabric in the neighborhood. I am thinking among others of the Maison d’Haïti which, through its arts center, highlights the talents of both local and internationally renowned artists, and À reach de mains, which organizes activities with citizens. cultural mediation and entertainment in the parks.
Since the spring of 2020, groups working in prevention have been seeing tensions arise and feeling the tide. After months of confinement, learning via screens and social isolation, the young people found themselves disoriented and losing their bearings. The parents, whose priority is to provide shelter and put food on the table, are exhausted. Programs that were supposed to address their lack of availability could not operate normally.
Once again, community and cultural organizations have been able to adapt and show creativity. Partnerships between La Tohu, Le Temps d’une pause, À Reach de mains and others have made it possible to go in music and color to meet isolated people and families via the alleys and balconies in order to offer a message of hope to an entire community, recalling health instructions and reconnecting with real people other than via a screen.
Culture is a magnificent gateway for young people; all you have to do is hear the talents that evolve within neighborhood organizations or the budding musicians from the Joseph-François Perrault school. They are creative and talented, their messages are anchored in reality and are communicated without filter, they only ask to find places in their image where they can express themselves freely and with confidence.
Bad luck, the building in which the community radio of the Forum jeunesse de Saint-Michel is located burned down in August 2021. With no other place available, the Forum jeunesse Saint-Michel took over the François Perrault park every Friday evening by leaving tables picnic and portable BBQ to maintain a precious social bond.
Structuring projects exist. I am thinking in particular of the community house which has just been located, thanks to the borough, on Saint-Michel Boulevard, and of the “Four Seasons” greenhouse project which will not only serve the students who take the course. WATER (environment and urban agriculture) at the Louis-Joseph Papineau school, but also SAVEUR, which is the food system that brings together many organizations and citizens of the neighborhood. And what will we say about Saint-Michel when the Francon quarry will no longer be the main snow dump in the city, but will become the heart of the district and will instead host a multitude of services available to the population of Saint-Michel? With, why not, cultural equipment as suggested by Mr. Adam?
If we want to see the young people of Saint-Michel develop fully, we need a set of measures, two of which seem essential and urgent to me: adequate local infrastructure and funding for the mission of groups working with the most vulnerable. . This is an investment, not an expense!