CFERs, Ever Heard of Them?

Training and recovery, it’s a winning combination! Photo credit : CFER Acton Vale


The business and recovery schools called “Centres de Formation en Entreprise et Récupération,” or CFERs, were founded in 1990 thanks to the determination of Normand Maurice. The program at these schools allows young people to acquire training and knowledge in the recovery and recycling sector, while getting a basic education in math, French and other areas.

Designed for students in non-traditional learning paths, the schools provide students with the help and support they need. All you have to do is visit the CFER in Victoriaville to feel the dedication and determination of the teachers.

For the past three years, I myself have been supporting a group of students at the Acton Vale CFER. Why? Because I firmly believe that these kids can succeed in life, despite the obstacles, and because I think it’s just natural to give back a little of what you’ve received.

Photo credit : CFER Acton Vale

I learn a lot from them; in fact, they teach me more than I teach them. Seeing these young people so fully committed to succeeding in their projects is in itself hugely satisfying.


Of course, they’re not angels; they all have their own personalities, and I’ve seen behaviour that is less than exemplary! But when you manage to establish a trust relationship with these kids, they show intelligence and courage that many adults will never know. They’ve had experiences in their childhood that may make them less emotionally stable, but they’ve developed depth and focus, and they just need the right opportunity to make things happen.

For several years, Cascades has been involved in helping these schools develop. With the aim of proving that success is not reserved for those with a pile of diplomas or people from “good” families, I asked Alain Lemaire to come and speak about his own experience. He accepted the invitation, and came to meet with the kids. The students really enjoyed his visit (the teachers, too!). They learned that adversity can be a source of strength that can lead to great accomplishments, and that determination is a powerful weapon.

Photo credit : CFER Acton Vale

Alain Lemaire gave an incredible speech about motivation and support which, for these kids, was extremely effective. I would like to thank him for accepting the invitation; I know that he struck a real chord with the students. Thank you!

I would also like to thank the staff at the school who support the students every day, who are with them through times of joy, crises, and doubts about the future. Thank you, Stéphanie, Caroline, Véronique, Jasmine, Dominic and everyone else. Thank you for your warm welcome and for making me feel like part of the team.

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About the Author
Patrice Clerc

Patrice has been with Cascades since 2003. He began as Project Manager for market and product development with Cascades Specialty Products Group, before becoming Director of Development for the division. In 2007, he joined Cascades Recovery as Manager of Procurement and Services, before being appointed Director of Business Development and Accounts. Patrice is well-known for his determination. His favourite saying is: “If it’s impossible, I’m interested.” Patrice is very involved in waste management in Québec: he sits on various committees and is a regular speaker at events related to the future of the recovery sector. As he says, “What’s the use of knowing things if you don’t share the knowledge?” For the past three years, he has been sharing his passion for recovery and recycling with young people aged 14 to 18 at the CFER in Acton Vale. He also leads team building workshops for businesses, in which he gives people the tools they need to define themselves as individuals. He organizes workshops that take place on a mountain, while hiking toward the peak! “It’s the effort and honesty that we put into what we do that make us creative beings."

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