14 October 2004

AlterHeros: Winner of Quebec Forces AVENIR

Mercredi le 6 octobre – Reconnue comme une initiative majeure dans la lutte à l’homophobie et la démystification de l’homosexualité, AlterHéros a été couronné meilleur projet de l’année au Québec dans la catégorie <em>AVENIR Société, Communication et Éducation</em> lors du Gala Forces AVENIR au magnifique Théâtre Granada de Sherbrooke.


AlterHéros, winner of the AVENIR Society, Communication and Education award

On Wednesday the 6th of October, the AlterHéros organization was honoured as the winner of the prestigious Forces Avenir Award in the Society, communication and education award category.   At the lavish Forces Avenir Gala Awards Ceremony, held in the spectacular Granada Theatre in Sherbrooke Quebec, AlterHeros triumphed over two other Provincial finalists to win first place, signifying for the first time in the history of the competition that a Youth initiative responding to the needs of the gay and lesbian community won the award.

The Forces AVENIR adventure

The Forces AVENIR adventure started in March of 2004 when the organization’s president, Marc-Olivier Ouellet, noticed a poster for Forces AVENIR at McGill University where he was studying computer engineering. Knowing a few details about this contest from previous years, he decided to get more information from student services. After an analysis of Force AVENIR categories and eligibility criteria, Marc-Olivier consulted his team and decided to go forward with the application process. He signed-up AlterHéros in the AVENIR Society, communication and education category.

Two weeks later, the McGill University jury, which included McGill’s Dean, staff and students, chose AlterHeros to represent McGill in the provincial competition.

Our project (AlterHeros) then moved on to the next step.  A jury comprised of specialists, which included the President of KRYPTON Imagination, Julie Gagnon, Director of Communications and Sales at the Museum of civilization and Robert Nadeau, Chief of Development for Television Programs at RDI, the 24 hour news channel, studied all projects submitted by all Quebec universities in the AVENIR Society, communication and education category. On July 5th of 2004, AlterHeros received the exciting news: it was one of the 3 finalists for best projects in the Province of Quebec in their respective category.

“We are extremely proud to have made it this far in the competition,” stated Marc-Olivier, President of AlterHeros.  “For us, to be recognized as one of the top three projects in Quebec is exemplary recognition, moreso since our project deals with a delicate issue, one that requires some openess on the part of the judges.”

A colorful Gala!

There was another 3 months worth of waiting before the overall winner was to be announced amongst the biggest fanfare at the Forces AVENIR Gala in the city of Sherbrooke. “As soon as we arrived at the Granada Theater, we were impressed by the scope and size of the event” says Jean-Pierre, board member of AlterHeros. In fact, the Gala looked very much like the Grammy’s or the Oscars ceremony: well known Quebec personalities & stars, government ministers, respected business leaders and university Dean’s were present. Not to mention, an impressive four course dinner, large video screens displaying the nights events, live music, a red carpet, cameras flashing and a wealth of fanfare…  All were present to honor the “Cream of the Crop” of youth projects in Quebec.

“Through your ideas, your concrete actions, and the outcomes of your dreams, you undoubtedly contribute to the development of your group and add an undeniable value to the advancement of our society. By your work, you are models who inspire others and we wish that you continue in this direction for the rest of your lives.  Your implication can make a better future” said François Grégoire, President and Director General of Forces AVENIR.

De gauche à droit: Jean-Pierre D, Marc-Olivier O. Bernard Lamarre, David B.

In the final stage of the competition, AlterHeros was up against two other very interesting projects. Péd@linux is a project that helps teachers use information technology on old computers; Eau pour le monde, is a project to help people realize the importance and conservation of fresh water. The grand jury, including the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Alain Gravel journalist, and other well-known Quebec personalities gave their verdict on the winners.  “And the winner of the AVENIR Society, communication and education is… AlterHeros!” declared M. Bernard Lamarre, Board Member and President of Force AVENIR. The AVENIR bursary of $4000 wll be awarded to the AlterHeros.

In accepting the trophy, Marc-Olivier took time on stage to remind people of the significance of the prize. “We wish to thank Force AVENIR for this recognition. Receiving this honor gives us much hope. The fight against homophobia is an important social problem which requires all of us to collectively address.  The time has come for gays and lesbians to fight for their acceptance.  Together we must all, regardless of sexual orientation, collectively work together to create a more friendly and open society accepting of diverse sexual orientations.  At AlterHeros, we strive to promote values of respect and inclusion.  Winning this award bears witness to the will of Quebec society to change the status quo and to form values that will represent the society of tomorrow. Because after all, it’s all a question of love. Thank you.”

So with all the excitement, bursting with motivation and energy, we journeyed on the road back to Montreal with our trophy and the feeling that we had accomplished something huge. We wish to thank all our visitors that have made the AlterHeros website an amazing success. We wish to thank all our partner organizations, our allies, and all the volunteers that help us near and far.

About Forces AVENIR

In 1997 a group of Quebec youth, newly graduated from university, decided that they wanted to expose up and comer youth trailblazers, thereby creating the bases for a new organization which is known today as Forces AVENIR.  With their idea in-hand, they started looking for financial partners.  Although the founders received some negative feedback, it did not stop them and eventually Forces AVENIR was born. In the last 6 years, it is at the annual gala that young people in Quebec are honored and recognized.  An unique event of its kind in Canada. This recognition is given out in the form of financial awards and international internships. Since its inception, Forces AVENIR has partnered with the 17 Quebec universities, making this event the only one of its kind that recognizes, year after year, promising projects and salutes excellence.

The Gala represents just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Force AVENIR does for its recipients. With a large advertising campaign, they use every opportunity to promote the creative potential of young people they encourage.

2004 marks the 6th edition of Force AVENIR.  It continues to pursue its mission to recognize, honor and promote university students that have, by their dynamic, intuitive ideas and implications, contributed to making a difference in our society.

The partners who contributed this year in making the event a success are: RDI, Minister of education, Minister of economic and regional  development and Research economic development Canada, Canadian studies by the heritage minister, City of Sherbrooke, Bell, Bowater, CGI, CN,  Desjardins group, RBC Financial, SAO, Radio-Canada, SSQ Financial group, Power Corporation Canada, Quebec universities, University of Quebec student association and newspapers Le Droit, La Presse, Le Nouvelliste, Le Quotidien, Le Soleil, La Tribune et La Voix de l’Est.