Rural Dignity

The first low-Laurentian Social Forum was held last fall at Holy Spirit, village symbol of “collective resilience” of a rural facing multiple crises. On the occasion of the anniversary of the forties of Dignity Operations , it was to bridge the gap between current and historical dynamic mobilisations (activists, artistic, intellectual, democratic, etc.) and, more broadly, with the anti-globalization movement which is expressed from the first World social Forum in 2001.

Of Dignity Operations at Social Forum , through the Coalition Rural emergency , rural mobilizations in Bas-Saint-Laurent can observe the difficulties experienced by social actors to make their demands heard, but also, more surprisingly, their ability to to recognize their role in solving the problems that affect them. Through three generations of mobilisations, one can also sketch three complementary dimensions of political participation in Quebec.

The Dignity years

The first mobilizations are still the best known. Against what is perceived as a brutal strategy of modernization from above – embodied by the development of Eastern Quebec Bureau (BAEQ) and its sequels, the closure of “marginal parishes” – the rural population of Lower St. Lawrence leads in the early 1970s a remarkable resistance action. Led by several members of the clergy, the movement of Dignity Operations (DO) officially takes birth after the outbreak of Sainte-Paule, near Matane, which brings together 22 September 1970 more than 3,000 people involved in the survival of their communities. The movement has several extensions to the Holy Spirit and Méchins.

The originality of this mobilization is that it is not confined to challenge government plans, but results in the implementation of a genuine development project, the local invention of a social and community model based on autonomy, solidarity and self-management. This innovative proposal can be considered as a first type of political participation, in which social actors contribute, even in a confrontational mode, the implementation of policies established at national level. First lukewarm welcome, this reinvention of territorial development is then reappropriated by the State through the vogue of “local development”. However, it appears insufficient when rural areas come into crisis in the late 1980s.

A rural to reinvent

In the economic context of the 1990s, the stakes move. The closure of villages takes a more insidious form: youth migration, employment crisis, closure of public services, lack of community resources, etc.Resistance suits claiming a more comprehensive participation policy. In June 1990, the Coalition of rural emergency Bas-Saint-Laurent (CUR) is created in Rimouski to raise awareness of Quebec’s rural crisis and the need for political intervention.

CUR prefigures and is part of a movement on a larger scale: in 1991, the States General of rural areas lead to the creation of a national organization, Solidarité rurale du Québec (SRQ), which argues the need for national policy for rural Affairs, but also through dialogue and decentralization, increased participation of social actors in the resolution of rural development issues. Recognized by the government as a critical partner in rural, SRQ sees its proposals materialized in 2001 by the “National Rural Policy”, which incorporates a novel way local modulation of national programs and respect the specificities of each territory.

There is continuity between the Dignity Operations and the Social Forum, starting with the hope of social transformation

social transformation Hope

With the Social Forum , rural mobilization in Bas-Saint-Laurent is part of a new form of political participation, based on a citizen deliberative and self-management dialogue to sketch the bottom construction of a different society. The proposed themes, and teeming cross, demonstrate the vitality of a proactive and ambitious participation, which fits in both modernity and globalization in local solidarity dynamics.In this sense, the Social Forum reveals a full redial citizenship – its potential and its challenges. It is this theme that wanted to explore, images, a team of professors and students of social and regional development UQAR 1 .

Forty participants from different generations were questioned on the issue of citizen engagement, with particular attention to time, perseverance and transmission. The documentary, which will be presented in the spring, shows that there is continuity between the Dignity Operations and Social Forum , starting with the hope of social transformation. Young and old agree, however, on the fact that the commitment takes different forms today, lighter, and transposed plural adapted to the diversification of individual trajectories and contemporary issues. The question is whether this third form of participation will find within the political system in response to the measure of his question: can the development be a citizen?