When the University of Quebec network was born in 1968 by law 88, an average person residing in Quebec had only a ninth grade and his parents were illiterate. Almost all young people in Quebec interrupted their studies early, due to lack of accessibility and means.
English was omnipresent and dominated in the upper echelons of knowledge and power. The three French-speaking universities existing at the time were governed by the Church. They offered a strictly Catholic education to the elite and produced no notable scientific research.
Thanks to the public network of the Université du Québec, of which UQAM is the flagship, a good number of Quebecers now hold higher education diplomas obtained in a secular and Francophone context. Many have taken the helm of our cultural, political, community and economic organizations. Remarkably, the average level of education for women has increased particularly dramatically, contributing to the emergence of dynamic feminist social movements.
Quebecers, in all their diversity, are lastingly enriched. The social progress of Quebec during the first half-century of UQAM was simply prodigious.
But all is not accomplished, far from it. As it begins its second half-century, UQAM must remain an ally of major Quebec projects, initiatives to preserve the French language in America, recognition of the First Peoples, development through knowledge and promoting equity through accessibility. These are ideals that have already been entrusted to UQAM by reason of being; a UQAM that excels in multiple areas of knowledge and that plays a key role in catalysing talent from all backgrounds, for our collective enrichment.
With the support of the population, UQAM must continue to fully embrace its role as an engine of economic and social development not only in Montreal, but in all regions of Quebec. Boucar Diouf mentioned that the University of Quebec “offers people who arrive [in Quebec] the opportunity to experience a cultural osmosis”. UQAM offers this cultural osmosis, in French, in Montreal. With its ideal of accessibility, it is the inclusive welcome door par excellence for local and international talent and the ideal springboard to accompany those who wish to find opportunities throughout Quebec and elsewhere, thanks to unique paths, innovative research and fruitful collaborations with all walks of life. The strike force of UQAM is such that the institution is able to collaborate in training and research throughout the territory of the province, and beyond, in French.
Who wants a strong Quebec wants a strong, dynamic, welcoming, vibrant and resolutely Francophone UQAM. The appeal of higher education in English is great. American culture is everywhere. The use of French in Quebec as the unavoidable first choice is a worrying challenge. It is time to cherish UQAM and the leading national role it can continue to play for our future. The UQAM community was able to meet major generational challenges in the spring of its existence. The driving forces that make it up today are all designed to support the new generations towards their ideals. With a foothold in Montreal through its physical location and a foothold in the regions through its affiliation with the Réseau UQ, UQAM is the natural ally of Quebec in all its projects.
Always ready for challenges. Ready for innovation. Ready to welcome. Ready to change lives. In French. Proudly UQAM!