The Alliance of Montreal Popular Education Centers (InterCEP) this week presented Education Minister Jean-François Roberge with the signatures collected during a campaign demanding financial support to ensure their survival.
The “It’s cheap and changes the world” campaign launched last September has collected more than 5,000 signatures in total.
The undersigned citizens took to paper to urge Minister Roberge and the government to act to save the six Montreal Centers for Popular Education (CEP).
The six CEPs who were forced to sign leases worth tens of thousands of dollars in 2017 or had to vacate their premises in 2018 had reached an agreement with the Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) – then the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM). ) – and the Ministry of Education.
This contract pledged funds for the renovation of the buildings, but imposed the payment of rent from January 1, 2008is July 2022. Too large sums for these community-oriented facilities.
Fight to stay alive
“After more than a decade of fighting for our survival, we are now in a hurry,” said Nicolas Delisle-l’Heureux during a press conference in the Blue Room of the National Assembly after meeting Minister Roberge.
“In 2017 we had to sign a lease under threat of immediate eviction and have struggled every year since to be able to pay for electricity and hot water. It’s absurd!”
We are dozens of people working in the CEPs to mobilize people to ensure our survival. How can we fulfill our mission of popular education and community organization when we are constantly struggling to stay alive?
Nicolas Delisle-l’Heureux, spokesman for InterCEP.
heart of the local communities
The MNA for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Alexandre Leduc, who was also present to support the process alongside the Liberal MNA for Viau Frantz Benjamin, acknowledged the impact of the CEPs and asked Minister Roberge to “save them from the abyss” by he offered them sustainable funding to ensure their sustainability.
“The popular education centers do a job that we cannot do without. These are essential living environments for our communities, he said. If Minister Roberge refuses to fund her adequately, her death warrant will be signed.”
Asked by metroCentre-Sud social committee co-director Marie-Josée Desrochers said she was disappointed at the meeting with Minister Roberge, who had made “no concrete commitment”.
The InterCEP spokesperson also recalled the impact that closing educational centers would have on their community.
“Yes, there are CEPs at our six facilities, but we also host many other community organizations on our campus. It is also a place where vulnerable populations can break their isolation, learn, meet people and feed themselves. All of this is doomed to disappear if the government does nothing.
I have been participating in philosophy, art and writing workshops for more than 20 years. My CEP allowed me to come out of the loneliness and cold as I left the homeless shelter. It’s also a place where I can be welcomed with warmth and empathy and where I can share human moments with people who understand me.
Guy Plante, user of the CEP of the Centre-Sud Social Committee.
What is a Popular Education Center?
The CEPs enable citizens to enroll in non-formal education, educational and social inclusion initiatives to improve their quality of life.
These community facilities also provide literacy services, computer training, continuing education, reintegration, catering, legal advice, day care, support for migrants, languages as well as other educational, social, artistic and cultural activities for their communities of sectors.