The Government of Quebec is investing $ 18.4 million to launch the construction of three accommodation centers for Indigenous students in Quebec and across the country, including one in Trois-Rivières.
The construction of a first 40-unit unit in Trois-Rivières will be launched in spring 2021 and completed in August 2022, just like in Sept-Îles. Quebec plans to build a third student residence by 2025. Its location, however, has not yet been determined.
This project is the result of a concerted effort between the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry responsible for Native Affairs and the Société immobilière du Regroupement des centers d’amitié autochtones du Québec (SIRCAAQ). The latter was also mandated to manage the construction.
The project is designed to be central. It will be built near the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, the Cégep de Trois-Rivières, Laflèche College, the Bel-Avenir vocational training center and several services. A CPE and a 4-year-old kindergarten will be added to it.
The size of the residences will vary from a simple studio, to six and a half room apartments to meet the needs of larger families, especially mothers who wish to be accompanied by their children.
“The train had already been on the rails for some time,” said Denise Caron, assistant director of the Native Friendship Center of Trois-Rivières. The efforts of the former Minister of Native Affairs Sylvie d’Amours are not unrelated to this.
The objective is of course to improve accessibility to studies for First Nations youth and in particular for the Atikamekw communities of Obedjiwan, Manawan and Wemotaci, but also throughout Quebec.
“People came from the communities to pursue their post-secondary studies and had difficulty finding housing. Often the women arrived with their children. Many have suffered from systemic racism in accessing housing, ”says Ms. Caron.
“When you are of Aboriginal origin, there are a lot of things to learn, including the way people look at yourself, in addition to integration into the school environment. People will really be integrated into the Trois-Rivières community. It will be a great incentive for aboriginal students. We have a great student community. It’s a project that will change the city for the better. There is recognition of the cultural contribution of the First Nations, ”she adds.
Not a closed circuit environment
“When you don’t know the reality, you could perhaps think like that, but the places will be open to non-native populations. Places where culture will be alive. I think there is going to be some curiosity. We allow people to continue to speak their language, to benefit from mutual aid and to experience their culture. Cultural security is something you can experience, ”says Denise Caron.
“Leaving a community is a mourning to go through. We will be able to act in a continuum of services and support them in their educational success, ”she continues.
“These community living environments will reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness experienced by students who attend large urban educational institutions,” recognizes Ian Lafrenière, Minister responsible for Native Affairs.
This project, carried out in partnership with the SIRCAAQ and funded from the $ 200 million envelope announced in the 2020-2021 budget, aimed at responding to the recommendations of the commissions (CERP and ENFFADA).