Interview with Audrey Brunette and Zoé Caravecchia-Pelletier
By Pauline Dufour | August 18, 2021
Last May, the Center for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence and LOVE (Quebec) united their expertise within the framework of the “International Day of Living Together in Peace” to lead an awareness workshop for students of the Louis-Riel High School (École secondaire Louis-Riel). Through viewing a short film and practicing drawing, they were able to express themselves on sometimes delicate subjects such as radicalization, violence, hatred, etc. Breaking the cycle of violence among young people is the very essence of LOVE (Quebec)’s mission, we wanted to know how this organization, established for 28 years, develops the resilience, leadership and confidence of young people in difficulty. For this, we spoke with two members of the team.
“LOVE (Quebec) created spaces for dialogue to open discussions. They are a safe space for young people to be able to share, and so that we can understand where their pain, their injuries and sometimes their hatred come from.”Audrey Brunette, Director of Programming
To begin with, what are your roles within the organization?
Audrey Brunette: Since the beginning of spring, I have held the role of director of programming. I have also been a coordinator for the past three years. My role was to facilitate programs and offer clubs which consist of 24 workshops. These are a mixture of learning photography, writing, but also discussions on themes that are not necessarily addressed in a school environment. As Program Director, I still give workshops, but I am more involved in curriculum development and team supervision.
Zoé Caravecchia-Pelletier: I started as an intern at LOVE (Quebec) in the fall of 2020, and I officially became the program coordinator and sexologist in mid-June of this year. My tasks consist in planning, facilitating, evaluating and then modifying our programs. I also prepare and plan the sexology workshops.
Do all young people have access to LOVE (Quebec)? Who are the young people who benefit from your programs?
Audrey: The largest pool of young people comes from schools where awareness workshops are conducted. Often, young people between the ages of 14 and 15 are asked to start the programs. Participation in the workshops is completely voluntary. In addition, young people who have difficulties and who want to share come to us, because the school does not have enough workers to offer this type of service. At first, the organization was created to help perpetrators of violence. Violence and hatred being important themes, we realized that there were many more people who needed our services, not just young offenders.
What strategies do you use, or your workers use with young people?
Audrey: Strategies vary a lot from one setting to another. Personally, my strategy is to create a bond of trust to give young people the chance to express themselves. First of all, I have an approach that is empathetic. I try to listen and not impose myself as the expert who will teach them everything. When I hear more discriminatory words, I raise awareness while remaining informal. Being informal is very important, even in contexts that are more formal like in schools, because the bond of trust is created more easily in this way.
What were the challenges encountered in (re)connecting with young people during the pandemic?
Audrey: We got in touch with young people on Instagram. Each speaker has a professional Instagram account, which allows them to get news and remain accessible if young people want to write to them. As young people are often more comfortable with communication via social networks, this measure has made it possible to reach a greater diversity of young people. We were able to intervene remotely with those who were in great distress.
What are you doing to educate young people about the influence of social media on sex or sexuality?
Zoe: Social media can create and maintain myths about sex, virginity, or other myths about the body in general. Our goal is to analyze these myths using our sexology workshops and our question boxes which aim to answer the questions and concerns of young people. There has been a lot of awareness raising about sexual violence on social networks, especially about “sextortion” and sharing of intimate photos. We want to make young people aware of the risks and impacts of such actions, but especially of their rights, so they develop a more enlightened view of sexuality.
DID YOU KNOW?
Sextortion is “a form of blackmail. This is when someone threatens to send an intimate photo or video of you to other people if you refuse to send them money or other intimate images.”
Source: Canadian Center for Child Protection Inc. (2021, September 15). Sextortion. Cyberaide.ca. https://www.cyberaide.ca/app/en/internet_safety-sextortion
How does the work of LOVE (Quebec) allow young people to go beyond hatred?
Audrey: LOVE (Quebec) creates spaces for dialogue to start the discussion. They are safe spaces for young people to be able to share, and so that we can understand where their pain, their injuries and sometimes their hatred come from. Often, it is about explaining to them that hatred can come from past situations, experiences or tragedies. After expressing themselves, young people feel better and more confident. This is when we steer the discussion into something more positive and provide suitable tools that can help them in their personal growth.
Zoé: As a speaker, I have a bit of a professional bias, because I always come back to the concept of education. I have the impression that through education, we can improve prevention work. More specifically, there is the prevention of discriminatory and hate-motivated behavior, but also the promotion of something more positive. Do not just say “Don’t do that”, but offer avenues for consideration to promote healthier relationships, equal and equitable relationships. Everything goes through a typical education, all the complexity that hatred represents in a society, that is to say through an intersectional vision.
For more information on LOVE (Quebec) and its programs, visit the website: https://loveorganization.ca/qc/en/