Rendez-vous québécois du loisir rural

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Insights from Fort-Coulonge’s Rendez-vous québécois du loisir rural
Tashi Farmilo

Local Journalism Initiative

FORT-COULONGE – This year’s Rendez-vous québécois du Loisir Rural, held at the Pontiac Conference Centre on May 1 and 2, brought together nearly 200 professionals from across Quebec, including municipal officials, general managers, and service providers. The gathering aimed to explore and enhance recreational opportunities within rural municipalities.

The event began with speeches from Jane Toller, MRC Pontiac warden; Christine Francoeur, mayor of Fort-Coulonge; Sandra Armstrong, mayor of Mansfield-et-Pontefract; and Julie DeCourval, general manager of Loisir Sport Outaouais. Caroline Malo of Espace Athéna delivered an opening keynote, emphasising self-awareness and leadership through an astrological lens.

Julie DeCourval highlighted the significance of hosting the event in the MRC Pontiac due to the region’s heritage and community spirit. “Nestled at the heart of rural life and imbued with a rich heritage, this community embodies the very essence of authenticity,” she said.

Workshops were tailored to addressing the specific needs of rural communities and focused on enhancing leisure development. Notable sessions included discussions on the impact of leisure on community enhancement and the vital role of public spaces in rural development. A panel featuring Alexandre Binette, mayor of Moffet; Joanne Ralston, Bryson councillor; and Madeleine Lefebvre, Maniwaki councillor; highlighted successful collaborations that have transformed their communities.

“It’s crucial for leisure workers to understand the conditions for successful collaboration with decision-makers,” noted Normand Veillette from Loisir sport Outaouais. “This panel highlights municipal actors who are deeply committed to the development of rural communities.”

Attendees engaged in various activities organized by Aventure Outaouais and Aventure Hélianthe like axe throwing, river explorations and touring Chutes Coulonge and the historic Félix-Gabriel-Marchand Bridge. “Our goal was to create an experience where each participant felt in harmony with nature and local traditions,” said Danelle Bourque, MRC Pontiac economic development commissioner. “Each activity was meticulously chosen to offer a true immersion into our heritage,” she added.

CHIP FM 101.9 animated the event, with renowned local host Marie Gionet contributing to the lively atmosphere.

Meghan Griffin, a Bryson Recreation Association volunteer, spoke about the impact of community-driven initiatives in Bryson and how leisure bolsters rural community life. “We’ve seen a tangible uplift in community spirit through our projects,” Griffin remarked. She led a pivotal workshop on developing public spaces and attended sessions on managing rural day camps, which she plans to integrate into Bryson’s summer programs.

Griffin emphasised the power of collaboration, which she witnessed first-hand during the event. “The workshop on inter-municipal collaboration was a highlight for me,” she noted, “It reinforced the importance of shared resources and collective effort to enhance rural leisure activities … For rural leisure to thrive, continuous collaboration and mutual support are essential,” she concluded.

Photo – Representatives from Loisir Sport Outaouais and MRC Pontiac at the Rendez-vous québécois du loisir rural in Fort-Coulonge, May 1 and 2. (Loisir Sport Outaouais)