March 27th, 2012
Once again, the Awareness Week on Racial Discrimination was a great collective success for Val-d’Or’s citizens. It featured a host of mobilising activities to promote the richness of Aboriginal culture.
With many actively involved partners and two exemplary spokespersons in terms of leadership and harmonious relationships, this 12th Awareness Week was an opportunity to create new alliances between an emerging Aboriginal labour force and Val-d’Or’s business community. Ms. Salomée McKenzie, Chief of the Lac Simon Anishnabe Nation Council, and Mr. Marcel Jolicoeur, Chairman of the Val-d’Or Chamber of Commerce and Development Director at Genivar, managed to create a strong interest and contagious enthusiasm for the need to develop good relationships between all peoples. “The first step is to initiate a dialogue, learn to know each other, develop relations and then we can do business together”, stated co-spokesman Marcel Jolicoeur. And the Chief of Lac Simon encouraged young people to get a training to be able to find employment that meets their skills.
The Awareness Week’s program was exceptionally varied thanks to our partners from the academic community including UQAT, the Commission scolaire de l’Or-et-des-Bois, St-Joseph and Golden Valley schools and the Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. For the first time, the Val-d’Or Chamber of Commerce held a luncheon conference in relation with the theme of the 2012 campaign, “Paddling together towards prosperity!” The exhibition on Aboriginal culture at St-Joseph school, the viewing of the movie Mesnak at l’UQAT and the numerous activities held by the Friendship Centre’s groups, young and no so young, are part of the outstanding events. The Tout Val-d’Or en parle talk show is among the great successes of the week, bringing together some 100 people from the business community to hear a presentation by Mr. Marc Gagnon, Senior Vice-president - Organisation and Culture, of the Cirque du Soleil. “At the Cirque [du Soleil], we share our resemblances and celebrate our differences”, said Mr. Gagnon to his attentive and diversified audience.
The campaign peaked with a record attendance at the Marche Gabriel-Commanda Walk, estimated at over 1500 participants from the whole area and bringing together again this year Aboriginal communities, the educational and business communities and Val-d’Or citizens. Differences are also celebrated in our community!
Ms. Édith Cloutier, the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre’s Director General, concluded with these words: “For this 12th edition, we wanted to push back the limits of cross-cultural relations by promoting a new dialogue between business people and Aboriginal citizens. This week was concluded in pride; Meegwetch to all of you!”