LÉVIS, QC, Oct. 5, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Steven Blaney, MP for Lévis-Bellechasse and Minister of Veterans Affairs, on behalf of the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, today unveiled a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque commemorating the national historic significance of the Caisse populaire (Mouvement Desjardins). At the event, he also announced the designation of Dorimène Desjardins as a person of national historic significance. The ceremony was held in Lévis and was attended by a number of high-profile individuals including Monique F. Leroux, President and CEO of Desjardins Group.
"I find it especially fitting that we are here in 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives - to commemorate the important contribution of the Desjardins Movement to Canadian history," said the Honourable Steven Blaney. "The national historic significance of the Caisses Populaires founder, Alphonse Desjardins, has already been commemorated and today I am here to announce on behalf of the Canadian government that his wife, Dorimène Desjardins, has also been named a person of national historic significance."
The caisse populaire (credit union) cooperative model founded in 1900 emerged as an alternative to the existing banking system. It gave farmers, small businesses, and workers easier access to credit and savings services. Caisses populaires were also successfully exported to Francophone communities across Canada and New England. With the support of the Catholic Church and Quebec nationalists, they had a profound impact on the direction and philosophy of Quebec cooperatives. They also had a role in developing provincial legislation on financial cooperatives and made the first forays into computerized banking.
As Alphonse Desjardins business partner and caisses populaires cofounder, Dorimène Desjardins played a critical role by carrying out a number of duties in the movement's early days. After her husband's death in 1920, this committed, devoted pioneer guided the development of the caisses populaires and safeguarded her husband's vision.
"Canada has one of the highest cooperative membership rates in the world thanks in part to the leadership of Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins," said Desjardins Group President and CEO Monique F. Leroux. "2012 is the International Year of Cooperatives, and the double tribute paid today by the Canadian government to Caisse populaire de Lévis and Dorimène Desjardins commemorates the indelible mark the Desjardins couple left on our entrepreneurial culture. Dorimène Desjardins had a gift for accounting and shared Alphonse Desjardins values of discipline and ethical behaviour. She inspired hundreds of other women to help create additional Desjardins caisses."
"The Government of Canada commemorates people and events like these on behalf of all Canadians to pay tribute to their uniqueness, their authenticity, and the stories they tell," explained Minister Kent. "I am extremely proud of the work we are doing with a variety of stakeholders to ensure that Canada's heritage is promoted and protected for Canadians today and for generations to come."
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada was established in 1919 and is supported by Parks Canada. It advises the Minister of the Environment regarding the national significance of places, persons and events that have marked Canada's history. On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada manages a nationwide network that makes up a rich tapestry of Canada's historical heritage and offers the public opportunities for real and inspiring discoveries.
For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca, under Media Room.
SOURCE: Parks Canada, Québec Field Unit
For further information:
Office of the Minister of Environment
Officer, Public Relations and Communications
Quebec Field Unit
Media Relations Director
514 281-7229 - 1 866 866-7000, poste 7229