Apprentis d'Auteuil as seen from Quebec

Apprentis d'Auteuil as seen from Quebec

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As part of their work with families in Quebec, Hanny Rasmussen and Nadine D’Amours spent ten days of cultural immersion at Apprentis d’Auteuil. Here’s what they both had to say about their experience.

From 26th March to 5th April, Hanny Rasmussen, Head of Development Practices at the Quebec Federation of Family Community Organizations (OCF) and Nadine D’Amours, Programme Coordinator at the Maison de la famille Des Chenaux, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade (Quebec), visited Apprentis d’Auteuil.  
Their journey first began with a week in Bordeaux at the Apprentis d'Auteuil Maison des Familles which is twinned with Des Chenaux. Karine Schoumaker, the Head of Service, visited Quebec in November 2016.

Hanny and Nadine then went on to spend three days at the Apprentis d'Auteuil Head Office. Whilst there,  they helped Christophe Beau (Head of Families and Parenthood International Programme at Apprentis d’Auteuil), and Brigitte Alsberge (Secours Catholique) to facilitate a meeting of staff and volunteers from the Maisons des Familles.
Both Hanny and Nadine contributed their experience in this field from the Agora project, which helps develop the OCF's knowledge and support practices.

An unconditional welcome

The week spent in Bordeaux proved to be ‘very emotional’ for Nadine:
‘the meetings with families and workers from different Apprentis d’Auteuil services, the big smiles despite the difficulties, and the precariousness of the situations was overwhelming.
At the Maison des Familles, I was amazed to see how unconditional the welcome is, and I thought the way relationship work is carried out despite the language barriers is truly wonderful. Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade is a rural environment, with very little immigration (which is different in comparison to Montreal).
I also greatly appreciated the space given to informal activities and their importance: group dinners, mothers preparing meals, the presence of the parents and the exchanges between them while their children played. I left full of ideas that I hope to implement in my own Maison des Familles.’

Hanny Rasmussen adds:
‘it’s a warm, friendly place, as if you were entering someone’s home. You get the feeling that everyone is welcome’. She goes on to say regarding the training: ‘The community of practices and knowledge is a way to reflect on our practices, to analyse them and go further, to build together in the Maisons des Familles and between the OCFs. Such encounters make it possible to get to know each other, to become known by the partners and develop a common vocabulary.’

The same beliefs

What common features did they notice on both sides of the Atlantic?
‘Despite the distance, despite our differences and despite the fact that our Maisons des Familles have been around for 60 years and yours have only been around for 5, we have the same beliefs! We talk about parents in the same way, we have the same outlook. Some examples? The parent is the child‘s first educator. But also the welcome, the ability to listen, the respect for the families. We are there because of them and for them. We recognised in one another our respective practices and we were able to develop a common vision.’

What are those differences? ’Our communities of practice and knowledge meetings happen more through volunteers, workers and boards of directors. At Apprentis d’Auteuil, from the start, families have been part of it; it’s very interesting and relevant. Taking the time to reflect with them in our teams makes sense, as well as offering a gathering place. For our part, we were able to share our experiences of success and failure, our ‘maturity’ as was often mentioned. When you are just starting out on your journey with Maisons des Familles, you explore and try things out before they become embedded.’

The final word?

Nadine: ‘this work, both in France and in Canada, allows us to grow, to adjust and in the end be better parents ourselves. This passion can be felt both over there and over here.’
Hanny: ‘for us, family is collective wealth. So, how do we take care of it in the Maisons and also at policy level?’

Further reading:

(1)    Communities of practice and knowledge: Places of exchange, learning, sharing and collective development of knowledge, introduced in 2014.

Apprentis d’Auteuil is a deeply committed catholic foundation, recognized as promoting the public interest in France and in more than 50 countries. Thanks to the expertise and experience of the foundation and their partners, Apprentis d’Auteuil have been able to supervise more than 23.000 children in France and almost 20.000 children and families worldwide. Its main goal is to help youth in difficulty by conducting educational projects and to boost their ability to participate in society as full-fledged citizens by promoting training and insertion programs worldwide. In addition to their actions towards helping vulnerable children, Apprentis d’Auteuil and their partners assist struggling parents in their family obligations, with coeducation as the guiding principle. The key purpose is to improve the management of children under their care and to enable them to grow as free and responsible adults. To make a donation for education – Please contact the foundation for underprivileged children Apprentis d’Auteuil.