"Nurturing hope for a better tomorrow"
Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group
Lévis (Qc) - October 16, 2017 - In the year and a half since I became President of Desjardins Group, I've had the opportunity to meet young people across Quebec and Ontario. They tell me about the challenges they're facing and their aspirations. They talk to me about the kind of world they want to live in. I've also met adults, often volunteers, who are making a difference in the lives of these young people, and who have become loving and inspiring role models for them.
During Co-op Week, which will run from October 15 to 21, we're lending extra support to the Auberges du cœur network of 30 youth shelters across Quebec. Every year, they provide shelter and support for more than 3,500 at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 30, many of whom are homeless and most of whom haven't finished high school.
The Auberges du cœur help them regain their self-esteem and find hope in the future. The people who work at the centres are there to listen, support and guide these young people so that they can reintegrate into society, go back to school, get a job or find housing.
Using cooperatives to help build a more inclusive society
Many young people tell me that what they want most is for our society to make room for everyone. They want to be accepted despite their differences. They also question an economic model that only values short-term profit, with no consideration for people or the environment.
I share their concerns. The strong feeling of economic and social exclusion that many young people are experiencing should be taken seriously. Today's world is painting a clear picture for us: letting the number of excluded rise is not the road to long-term progress. We all need to believe that there can be a better tomorrow, that we can make things better for ourselves, our families and our communities.
I'm convinced that cooperatives play a key role in our quest for a more humane and inclusive society. They can also be an inspiring model for young people because, above all else, cooperatives exist to meet their members' needs. They are built on strong values--mutual aid, solidarity and money at the service of human development--and take a long-term approach to achieving their goals.
During Co-op Week, I encourage you to support local organizations working to help young people succeed. Organizations that offer them a wide array of leisure activities to explore. Organizations that encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to stay in school. Organizations that help them join the workforce or get their own businesses off the ground.
The challenge I have for us all is to work alongside our youth to build a society that is more inclusive and respectful of people and the environment.