The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation inaugurated today a 13th outdoor, refrigerated and multisport rink, in the Jonquière borough of the city of Saguenay, as part of the of its BLEU BLANC BOUGE program. To mark the occasion, several former Canadiens players, including Guy Carbonneau and Gilbert Delorme, who both started their careers in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) playing for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, were on site to skate with the kids from Le Tandem Rosaire elementary school. In a unique partnership model, the City of Saguenay has entrusted the Patro de Jonquière with the management of operations and maintenance of the infrastructure and equipment bequeathed by the Foundation to the municipality.
“The impact of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program is a source of great pride for the Canadiens organization and its Foundation. We now have 13 skating rinks on which kids in different regions of Quebec can be active. By working in collaboration with local community stakeholders, these infrastructures allow us to be an agent of positive change for the health of our youth. We are pleased to team up with the City of Jonquière and the Patro de Jonquière to make this rink an active gathering place for young people in the region,” said Geneviève Paquette, executive director of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and vice-president of community engagement for the Montreal Canadiens.
“When the sector of Jonquière was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation to receive a BLEU BLANC BOUGE rink, it was only natural for us to think of the Patro, an organization that is already making little miracles when it comes to social diversity and accessibility. Thanks to this collaboration, we will be able to democratize the practice of hockey, promote healthy lifestyles and provide memorable moments to young players and their families,” added Julie Dufour, mayor of Saguenay.
In addition to the collaboration with the municipality, the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation also relies on the support of private companies established in the regions where the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks are located, who wish to get involved in a unifying and promising project for their community. This is particularly the case for Rio Tinto, which offered a contribution of $450,000 over three years to support the implementation of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program in Saguenay. This amount is donated to the Foundation through the Rio Tinto Aluminum Canada Fund, which aims to generate value in their host communities.
“We are very proud to contribute to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation’s BLEU BLANC BOUGE program, which will improve access to sports activities for families in the Jonquière borough and surrounding areas. I encourage Rio Tinto employees, their families, and members of the community to come and experience this magnificent new rink,” said Sebastien Ross, acting managing director, Atlantic Operations, Rio Tinto.
As a first-rate partner of the Foundation’s since 2001, Desjardins Securities has been supporting children in need by contributing financially to the Foundation to help it achieve its mission and objectives, including the construction and activation of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks.
“In 20 years of involvement with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, Desjardins Securities has raised more than $8.2 million to support the Foundation’s mission. Our teams are firmly committed to making a positive difference in the communities where they are deeply rooted and together, we can go further and dream bigger. The inauguration of these infrastructures today is a case in point. Thanks to the common will and the shared vision of all stakeholders, we’re providing the young people of Jonquière with the stepping stones to a brighter future,” said Marjorie Minet, vice-president of advisory services and wealth management at Desjardins.
A new gymnasium for the Patro de Jonquière
On the sidelines of the inauguration of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation’s BLEU BLANC BOUGE rink, the Patro de Jonquière took the opportunity to unveil the brand-new Desjardins Gymnasium, for which construction was finalized this fall. This new 900 m2 double-sized gymnasium will allow the practice of indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball and badminton, and will include changing rooms and showers for its users. Annexed to the existing building, this additional area will allow the Patro to increase its capacity and accommodate nearly 1,000 children, especially during the summer months.
In addition, a garage that will accommodate the ice resurfacing machine has been fitted in the new building, which will also house the skaters pavilion and an equipment loan room, in which people of all ages can put on their skates and warm up each winter. Through the animation of accessible leisure activities and community support services that reach up to 125,000 people annually, the Patro’s mission is to create a living environment that promotes the well-being and development of citizens of all origins, backgrounds, and ages, especially youth and the most vulnerable.
“Today, we wrote the chapter of a story dedicated to our youth. The authors are the people of Saguenay and local businesses. The publishing house that trusted us is Caisses Desjardins Saguenay, the city of Saguenay and the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. I am privileged to have witnessed the mobilization of a community. There is nothing stronger than a population that desires something for its youth,” said Yannick Gagnon, general manager of the Patro de Jonquière.
It should be remembered that in 2014, the Patro de Jonquière launched a fundraising campaign for its new gymnasium, which raised $2 million thanks to the mobilization of the local community and businesses, including a contribution of $125,000 from the Saguenay Desjardins caisses. “Beyond this major financial contribution by the Desjardins Group, we derive great satisfaction from having worked alongside the Patro in order to inspire other partners to get involved in this project which enriches the life of our community, in particular by getting young people active and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Thank you to our members and clients whose confidence has enabled Desjardins to take an active part in the creation of this new infrastructure that we are discovering today with so much pride,” said Luc Guillemette, representative of the general managers of the Saguenay Desjardins caisses.
The Government of Quebec also committed in 2019 to matching this amount through a $2 million grant awarded under the support program for sports and recreational facilities (PSISR). “The construction of the gymnasium is a project that has been particularly close to my heart from the moment I heard about it. We can never overemphasize the importance of physical activity in our lives, and that is why our government is proud to help this project come to fruition,” indicated Andrée Laforest, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister Responsible for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Region, and Member of the National Assembly for the riding of Chicoutimi.
The combined construction of the ice rink and gymnasium represents investments of nearly $7 million to get youth in Saguenay and the surrounding areas active.