If there’s one trait that best exemplifies the character of people on Quebec’s rugged North Shore, it’s resilience. “People here have lived the cycles of commodities for 60 years,” said Pierre Gagnon, President and CEO of Port of Sept-Iles.
“They’re tough. And they know and understand that when times are bad, you have to act responsibly and be careful with your money until the good times return.” That stoic manner, he added, was on display at a special gathering organized in April this year by the Port with all its local community organizations. A key player in the mining-driven community, Port of Sept-Îles made more than $120,000 in donations to more than 80 local organizations in 2015 alone.
Some of those contributions included being a major partner of Sept-Iles’ most important summer family festival Vieux-Quai en Fête; financing the 5 à Huîtres maritime fundraiser for a local palliative care facility; and the donation of 100 turkeys to the Comptoir alimentaire de Sept-Îles food bank at Christmas.
“It was a very painful decision to stop providing funding this year because we know how much our contributions mean to the people involved,” said Gagnon. “But we needed to make some difficult choices because of the current economic conditions. So we invited them for a special gathering to share that reality, and to offer to help the community in other ways, like providing venues or other non-monetary support for their activities.”
“The Port can do much more than financially contribute to a fundraiser or other activity,” added Patsy Keays, the Port’s long-time Communications Manager. “We can ask our employees to do volunteer work, we can provide furnishings, office space for meetings and share contacts, just to name those few things.”
Both Gagnon and Keays said they were moved by the positive and supportive reaction of the several dozen people who attended the April meeting (outnumbering the crowd that attended the Port’s Annual General Meeting two months later).
“I think what they appreciated most was the fact that the Port took the time to meet with them and to share our situation,” said Keays. “What emerged was a real openness to work together and to pool our strengths to help each other out through bad times. Everyone here understands and shares the fallout from the current economic situation,” said Gagnon. “And they know that good time or bad, the Port is here to help the community as best it can.”