Student association in support of the Red Cross: Preparing and inspiring the next generation

By Dourrice Adamson, Communications Volunteer
 
Wishing to get involved in their community, two Université Laval students decided to volunteer at the Canadian Red Cross.

After their rewarding experience with the organization, Audrey Simard and Élizabeth Collin-Paré came up with the idea to create the Association étudiante en soutien à la Croix-Rouge (Student Association in Support of the Red Cross) to promote the organization’s mission and fundamental principles.

This initiative, the only one of its kind across Canada, was launched in 2019 and many students have found a sense of belonging within the association. 
 
Over the last two years, the positive response to the association’s fundraising and outreach activities have shown that such an association can be relevant and impactful in the university landscape.
Lea portrait smiling
Even though founders Audrey Simard and Elizabeth Collin-Pare have since moved on, new members’ sense of belonging is just as tangible.

Léa Bissonnette-Lavoie, left, General Coordinator of the association, says, “The association helped me find my place at the university, and I know that I’ll stay involved throughout my university career!”

The members of the association also represent Université Laval’s diversity, as it brings together students from a wide range of faculties and ethnic backgrounds.

Seynabou portrait smilingThat’s one of the things that got Seynabou Touré, right, an international student from Senegal, to join the association as finance coordinator.

When I came to Quebec last winter, the association helped me make cultural inroads. Being around young people who grew up in Quebec helped me to appreciate my new city,” she says.
 
The association is unique because it promotes civic engagement among young people through volunteerism, since their charter stipulates that members must become Canadian Red Cross volunteers.

Marie-Jeane portrait outside smilingAs member Marie-Jeanne Bélanger, left, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and International Relations adds,

"Volunteering is an important complement to academic learning, particularly for people in more theoretical fields of study since it gives students a chance to apply their knowledge and gain practical skills. Above all, it’s an opportunity to get a foot in the door in the field that we’re interested in and puts students in a better position once they’re out in the job market.”
 
 The university community has been hit hard by the pandemic.

To help students get through it, the members of the association decided to adapt the content of their Facebook page. At the beginning of the pandemic, they ran an awareness campaign focused on staying healthy, showcasing the Canadian Red Cross’ efforts to combat the virus. The group’s Facebook page also started recommending books, podcasts, and other media related to the humanitarian sector.

Throughout the pandemic, the committee became a sort of escape for these students at a time when social activities were restricted, and its meetings helped students stay connected and engaged.
 
Getting young people involved is essential and immensely valuable for an organization’s development. Raising awareness about the Canadian Red Cross’ mission among young people and promoting volunteerism sparks valuable intergenerational and intercultural dialogue. 
Michelle portrait smiling
Michelle Albert-Rochette, right, who was a member of the association’s Executive Committee for two years, is confident in the association’s future.

“Our association shows real promise. The original organizers built a solid foundation, and it’s great to see how it evolves every year. Every member that I’ve had the opportunity to work with is motivated, and frankly, the university is lucky to have an association that promotes the fundamental principles of the Canadian Red Cross!”

If you're interested in volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross, learn more about current opportunities.
 

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