With a presence in Québec since 1851, the YMCA aims to inspire and encourage everyone to reach their full potential, thrive and contribute to their community.
It’s been almost two years now that young people have had their world turned upside down. Many are still having difficulties catching up on the learning lost at the beginning of the pandemic. And, in addition, teens have had to make do with reduced sports and cultural activities, increased social distancing, and a virtual space full of pitfalls. All this at a time in their lives when diverse and fulfilling experiences are key to their development.
That’s why the Y is so important. It’s at the Y that they will find, whether in-person or online, the tools and support needed to succeed in school, to be there for their peers, and to contribute to their community. And, every day, we are privileged to witness young people embodying our values of solidarity, inclusion, and audacity. They are enthusiastic, passionate, and engaged.
These young people inspire us. They are our raison d’être for 170 years now. So this evening, we say thank you to the youth workers who are there for them every day, not just at the Y but also in schools, parks, and even online. Thank you to the partners and donors who support these programs and help us create new ones, adapted to this new reality. And thank you to the thousands of young people who trust us every day to guide them in fulfilling their potential.
It is with a great deal of emotion that we can once again get together this year to celebrate extraordinary people. People, who despite the health crisis that has affected us all, have continued to work on building stronger, fairer, and more harmonious communities.
While we have had to keep our distance for almost two years now because of the pandemic, seeing us all here tonight—in the room and on the web—proves that this distance is merely physical. And that solidarity always keeps us connected.
And, now more than ever, we need this solidarity. Our children and teens are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic: learning loss, isolation, loss of physical and social activities, and mental health issues. Every day, the teams at the Y are there to support, guide, and inspire them.
It is thanks to you that these young people can turn to the Y. Thanks to your support. And by being with us tonight, you are telling them loud and clear: “I’m here for you. I believe in you. You can do it.”
So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Brian Bronfman, Peace Network for Social Harmony
Nathalie Mercier-Filteau, WSP Canada Inc.
François Morin, BMO Financial Group