Manon Rousseau has been working in the field of community and social development for more than 25 years. She is the founder and executive director of the Centre communautaire Val-Martin, a community centre with the mission of improving the quality of life for youth and families in Chomedey.
In 1991, Les Immeubles Val-Martin, a housing complex, comprised over 700 housing units. They were occupied primarily by large families struggling with poverty and multiple social problems. Out of a desire to create a healthier and more harmonious living environment, the management of the complex decided to establish community activities—using funds originally budgeted for the enlargement of a parking area. To lead this initiative, it approached Manon Rousseau, a neighbourhood resident and social worker by profession.
An inspiring and energetic woman, Manon began by getting together with the residents to better understand their realities and their needs. She then created several services and activities, relying on mutual-aid, citizen involvement and the potential of individuals. She established successively a drop-in centre with volunteer single mothers, a program to help parents, a youth centre, a family centre and a thrift counter. To address the district’s school dropout rate, one of the highest in Laval, she founded Projet PROP, which promotes the social integration and employability of young people, and Ça CLIQ, a dropout prevention initiative. Along the way, she constantly adapted the various services to meet changing needs in Chomedey, which today is home to 37% of Laval’s immigrant population.
A builder, Manon managed to instill her vision in her team and, over the years, to create a true sense of community and belonging at the agency. An excellent communicator, she is frequently called upon to represent the community sector to various government bodies and agencies at the local, regional and provincial level, where she speaks for excluded and marginalized people, describing their circumstances accurately and with conviction. With her commitment and credibility, she has had a major positive impact in mobilizing citizens and social partners in Laval.
Manon Rousseau is a remarkable leader and a true ambassador for her community. Centraide has supported the Centre communautaire Val-Martin since 1996.
Manon Rousseau is the winner of the Solidaires Leadership 2015.