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The Michaëlle Jean Foundation

The Michaëlle Jean Foundation was formed over the course of the five-year Governor General mandate of The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, whose main priorities always included youth and the arts as tools for civic participation and social change. During that mandate, Madame Jean and her husband, filmmaker, writer and philosopher Jean-Daniel Lafond, devoted considerable efforts to convene forums and facilitate conversations among Canadians aimed at helping youth contribute to the development of their community by using the arts and culture, with a particular focus on the Canadian francophonie.

photo: Jean-Daniel Lafond, Michaëlle Jean Foundation

photo: Jean-Daniel Lafond, Michaëlle Jean Foundation

As they criss-crossed the country north to south, east to west, Madame Jean and Mr. Lafond opened up spaces for dialogue with hundreds of organizations, including many serving French-speaking youth in Quebec as well as within other francophone communities living as linguistic minorities. Always, the goal remained the same: to provide youth with the means to put the arts in the service of community transformation and social change.

These initiatives spurred the involvement of community groups, business people, artists, elected officials and youth everywhere across Canada. They clamoured for the establishment of a national organization capable of supporting novel initiatives that allow youth from underprivileged communities to unite, share new ideas, and act positively in their communities.

It is for that purpose that the Michaëlle Jean Foundation was founded in December 2009. It began operating in 2011 as the legacy project from the mandate of the 27th Governor General and Commander-in-chief of Canada. The government of Canada, through the Department of Canadian Heritage, endowed the Michaëlle Jean Foundation with $3 million in 2011. It further committed to $7 million to match private donations to the Foundation. Thus, after $7 million are raised through private fundraising campaigns, the Foundation will be endowed with a total of $17 million.

Michaëlle Jean at the Global Youth Assembly, July 2009.  photo: Rideau Hall.

Michaëlle Jean at the Global Youth Assembly, July 2009. 
photo: Rideau Hall.

The Foundation works in close collaboration with community cultural organizations, the private sector, local and government authorities, to develop among youth at risk the power to change their lives and to transform their environment through the arts. Its programs provide hundreds of youths throughout Canada with the means to leverage their creativity towards implementing new strategies to combat social ills such as marginalization, criminality, and suicide.

The work of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation relies on the mobilization of local communities. It promotes economic activity through cultural entrepreneurship and socioeconomic development at the local level. Its integrated, concerted efforts aim to unify all sectors of society within a space where dialogue, sharing, and action become possible. Hence, this is how the Foundation promotes approaches that are themselves creative to bring about social change within marginalized communities in Canada. Its support goes to youth programs that use the arts to help youth develop fully as active citizens and change agents.

Michaëlle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond are the co-founders and co-presidents of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.

To learn more, please see the Michaëlle Jean Foundation website.