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Connexions community focus group, Shawville edition

by Camilla Faragalli
Jan. 17, 2024
Tuesday marked the second in a series of focus groups being held in five different communities across the Pontiac to gather information about the needs, challenges and opportunities in each community.
The event, held at the Shawville Community Lodge, was organized by the Connexions Resource Centre, a non-profit organization that aims to link the English-speaking community of the Outaouais with a variety of health and social services.
Shelley Heaphy, Connexions community outreach coordinator for the MRC Pontiac region, said the information gathered in these sessions will be used by Connexions to create “community portraits”, to help the organization target its services according to the information it gathers, as well as represent community needs to community partners and government.
Heaphy focused the group discussion around three major areas of interest; health and wellbeing; social life and education; and economic conditions and environment. She asked participants about the assets and challenges associated with each, along with changes they wished to see implimented.
Clarendon farmer Chris Judd said the issue he is most concerned about is access to mental health supports for community members, especially farmers.
“It’s a real problem, and we’ve got to get in there right away,” he said, citing the high suicide rate amongst farmers and explaining that he believes more preventative measures can and should be taken to support them.
Rick Valin, a retired schoolteacher, said he thought the most pressing issue discussed at the Town Hall was that of retaining youth in local communities.
“[Students] leave to go to [post-secondary] school, and when they look back here there’s no jobs to come back to, so they’re settling in big cities,” he said.
Valin said his own children were perfect examples. His daughter lives in Victoria, one of his sons is in Montreal and the other in Gatineau.
“They’d love to come back but there’s no work for them. They’re all professionals,” he explained.
Connexions community outreach coordinator for the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, Paul Brown, called the government-sponsored project “really important.”
“This community portrait will give us statistics or information that we can then use to apply for funding, that we can tie directly back to the community,” he said.
“The more information we have about what people are looking for within the community, the better we’re able to represent [it].”
Connexions will be holding three more focus groups over the coming weeks; Jan. 23 in Campbell’s Bay, Jan. 30 in Portage du Fort and Feb. 6 in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes.


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