by Austin Webb
Even with 10 years experience working in some of Montreals most
disenfranchised neighborhoods, Christine Lafortune decided to go back
Lafortune, 38, is one of 24 students taking part in this years graduate
diploma in Community Economic Development at Concordias School of
Community and Public Affairs. Like most of the participants in this two-year-old
program, shes already well established in her field, working as
a development officer in a Plateau-area CDEC. Still, Lafortune believes
theres always more to learn.
I love what I do, she said from her office last week, but
the diploma will give me more tools. Ive been doing this for a while
and its a good opportunity to step back and take stock, look at
some new approaches.
The Diploma in Community Economic Development (CED) was created for people
like Lafortune: dedicated members of community and government organizations
looking to deepen their understanding of and approach to the field. The
one-year program offers practical courses on financing and entrepreneurship,
but also has more theoretical courses in comparative and feminist approaches
A lot of people already working in this field have never had any
formal training, said Graduate Program Director Eric Shragge. Here
they get to pull back and examine it critically. We learn how to read
an account statement, and at the same time teach the theory of political
Shragge believes the program is timely, reflecting changes in government
social policy over the past 10 years. The rise of neo-liberal policies
has led to a lot of deregulation, he said. This has created
more opportunities for citizens to be involved, but its also forced
the community sector to become more politicized.
For participants and organizers, the main theme of the program is to bring
social aims and community processes together with the nuts and bolts of
We need to link our social programs with work-oriented programs;
thats why Im here, said Luc Rabouin, a social worker
from Lachine who enrolled in the program this year. For Rabouin, that
means setting up low-rent cooperative housing and entrepreneurship programs.
In both years of its existence, the program has drawn participants from
all over the country. In its first year, social and community workers
arrived from Winnipeg, Halifax and British Columbia and both years have
seen students from some of Canadas northern aboriginal communities.
For Montrealers like Lafortune, the broadening of perspectives can only
be a good thing. Ive learned so much this year from so many
of the students, she said. In the north, they seem to have
a much more global approach problem-solving.
Following up on what shes learned, Lafortune is heading to Italy
this summer to witness some of that countrys more progressive social
and economic programs. Im excited about it, she said.
In Italy, theyve been successful at integrating so-called
fringe elements of society into the workforce.
The diploma in CED is taught completely in English one year, French the
next. Program coordinator Michael Chervin thinks an alternating unilingual
program makes more sense than a yearly bilingual one, given the realities
of community work in Montreal.
You dont want to exclude people who have a lot to say,
he said, and there are many experienced people who can contribute
a lot to this program without necessarily being able to study in both
languages. Its a much more inclusive way of doing things.
in Management and Community Development marks first decade
For the 10th year, Concordias Institute in Management and Community
Development will welcome community activists and organizers to Montreal
for an intensive week of bilingual workshops and demonstrations on the
As always, the week will be packed with insight and incident, but there
are some innovations, too. The opening day, June 14, includes performances
in the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall by cabaret artist/activist Norman Nawrocki,
Jamaican-born oomaanist dub-poet Debbie Young, and comic monologuist Jean-Yves
The opening day also includes talks by Omar Aktouf, a management professor
at HEC who specializes in new economic thought, and fundraiser and author
Kim Klein, who will talk about how the war on terrorism threatens civil
For the third year, the Institute offers students in the Department of
Applied Human Sciences the opportunity of attending the summer program
for academic credit. They are expected to participate fully in the training
sessions, and attend additional sessions in a structured classroom setting
with an instructor. Students not in an Applied Human Sciences program
can use the course as an elective.
As well as the five-day summer program, with its short workshop sessions,
the Institute offers two two-day forums on specific subjects. One is called
Environmental Activism and Sustainable Development (June 11-12), and the
other, In Pursuit of Social Justice: The Corporate Factor (June 13-14).
The deadline for registration is May 20. A Web site will be up soon. In
the meantime, the PDF version of the brochure can be accessed at http://carina.concordia.ca/conted/reg/Program2002.pdf.