Patrice Clerc, Manager of Procurement and Services / Director of Accounts at Cascades Recovery, is a highly involved Cascader. He never hesitates too long to do “more” for young people and for the environment. That is why he has been involved with the Centre de Formation en Entreprise et Récupération (CFER) in Acton Vale for several years. This organization aims to support at-risk youth and provide them with training in preparation for the job market. It also helps them to develop an environmental conscience.
What motivates you to get so involved with young people?
I simply believe in the cause. I believe that these young people, who have been forgotten and rejected by traditional high school, have the potential and the right to learn—I hate inequality! I also believe that education and intelligence are not necessarily one and the same. That is what I am trying to convey to these teenagers. I remember the first time I met them. I told them that there were two rules they had to follow with me. The first was that they should always tell me what they really thought, even if they disagreed with me. The second was that they had to have self-confidence. In the end, they will graduate and become specialists in their fields despite their academic or personal difficulties!
How long have you had this community conscience? Did it start with a specific event?
A few years ago, I became aware of the importance of sharing knowledge. As Amadou Hampâté Bâ (Malian writer and ethnologist) once wrote: “When an old man dies, it’s a library burning.” What good would it do to acquire all sorts of knowledge only to bury it with you? I use my involvement to share mine.
Is there a defining moment you are especially proud of?
I would say it is more of an overall pride. I am proud to help raise the awareness of those around me regarding our management of materials headed for landfill sites. I want to convince them that this way of doing things has no future and that young people like those at CFER can help improve this process.
I am also especially proud to have successfully motivated teenagers and helped them regain self-confidence. Staff members at CFER have told me that the school dropout rate had gone down by more than 30% since I became a coach!
How is it that everyone recognizes you for being so involved?
I’m completely immersed in what I’m doing and live in the moment—I don’t go through the motions! People appreciate this positivity. I think the consistency of what I say and my outspokenness have something to do with this: I convey the same message regardless of the hat I am wearing. If someone nominated me for this award, my words must be making sense!
Do you think your involvement has influenced the people around you?
Why are you giving the $1,000 cheque to CFER in Acton Vale?
Because they deserve it! Their funding keeps getting cut every year—they have to do a lot with the little that they have. I have no doubt they will put this money to good use, right down to the last penny! With $1,000, they can have at least two educational outings and purchase equipment and materials. In a way, I am thumbing my nose at the “higher-ups” of the school board, who happen to make close to that amount daily while funding is getting less and less.
If you had to convince others to get as involved as you, what would you tell them?
Stop thinking that it is out of your reach and that you have to make huge gestures to change things. Just pay attention to what you are doing, live in the present and wake up! Rekindle your flame and live!