Using archives to imagine the future

In partnership with the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), Saguenay students and their teachers were able to immerse themselves in the institution's archives before looking to the future to imagine an ideal living environment.

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If it is better to know where we come from to know where we are going, the co-construction process undertaken in recent months by two teachers from Saguenay, Pascale Tremblay and Julie Turcotte, is probably on target. . In partnership with National Library and Archives of Quebec (BAnQ), their project allowed students to immerse themselves in the institution's archives before looking to the future to imagine an ideal living environment.

This project, which was presented during the 2021 transfer session of the École en Réseau (ÉER), included two main stages. 

  1. First, through the BAnQ archives, introduce the students to two cities built specifically to meet the needs of two large companies and their workers: Arvida for Alcan and Chicoutimi for Compagnie de Pulpe. 
  2. Secondly, allow students to imagine their ideal living environment by drawing it, after being inspired by the works of the painter Arthur Villeneuve.

An invaluable resource

When they started the project, “the students were fascinated to discover the archives,” recalls Pascale Tremblay, a teacher at the Rives-du-Saguenay School Services Center.

Fact, BAnQ has a well-stocked digital collection. The cultural and educational mediation project manager at this great Quebec cultural institution, Élise Casavant, explains that you can find various objects there such as newspaper articles, soundtracks, photographs as well as several video clips. “We want these cultural objects to be used not only as triggers, but throughout the project in order to bring out their full potential,” she explains. In short, we do not want them to dust themselves off and fall into oblivion.

BAnQ even produces educational sheets to help teachers in their educational process.

Draw your dreams

Well aware of what was the daily life of their great-great-grandparents, the students were able to take the second step. Julie Turcotte, also a teacher at the CSS des Rives-du-Saguenay, explains that the students imagined their ideal living environment through paintings that they then created, inspired by the works by Arthur Villeneuve. Accommodation, entertainment, landscaping, here are some examples of what they represented.

This educational activity enabled elementary school students to discover important cultural tools. It also led them to develop their critical sense both with regard to the canvases of a renowned painter, but also with respect to sectors of their region that have been developed according to the needs of large companies.

Ultimately, the students of Pascale Tremblay and Julie Turcotte will have learned to better understand their territory and to imagine ways of rethinking it.

Main image source : Arvida aluminum bridge, Arvida, 1950, BAnQ Québec, Fonds Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, (03Q, E6, S7, SS1, P78612), Jones, IW

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About the Author

André Magny
For more than 30 years, André Magny has been going back and forth between journalism and teaching French to teenagers and adults alike. Freelance freelance writer for various media including Francopresse, he was also a cultural journalist at Law in Ottawa and in charge of new technologies at Soleil de Québec. He also did sports journalism in France. He has a weakness for the Francophonie, culture, sports, cuisine and politics.

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