Mayor says cultural award means Vaudreuil-Dorion is the ‘best in the world’
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Councillor Rénald Gabriele displays the international award that was presented to the city by the United Cities and Local Governments’ (UCLG) Culture 21 initiative that was held in Mexico City two weeks ago.
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon was unfazed by criticism from some residents during question period at the Monday evening council meeting on November 7 about whether the award that was recently presented to the city for its Je Suis cultural program has any real significance.
Pilon told Your Local Journal during a telephone interview that despite the few critics, the award proves that even a small municipality like Vaudreuil-Dorion with a population of just under 40,000 residents can make a major impression on the international stage.
“I’m so proud of it,” said Pilon. “When you’re a youngster and growing up, you look at baseball, football and the Olympic Games and say to yourself that you want to be the best in the world. Now, for at least a year or two, we’ve been told that we’re the best in the world.”
The award, which was displayed in front of District 5 Councillor Rénald Gabriele’s council chamber seat, was presented to the city at a special ceremony held in Mexico City two weeks ago through the auspices of the United Cities and Local Governments’ (UCLG) Culture 21 initiative.
Gabriele and cultural director Michel Vallée attended the event which included a 25,000 Euro prize. The money will be used to promote existing, and develop more, cultural programs.
Pilon said that no one who has been involved with Je Suis since its inception about six years ago had any idea how the program would evolve. Over the next few years, the city organized several community events which have brought people from many different cultural backgrounds together while celebrating diversity.
The success of Je Suis prompted the city to present its program as a model for other cities around the world to follow when representatives attended their first UCLG conference where the full scope of the Je Suis program was delivered to international delegates in Bilbao, Spain, in 2015.
“We’re just a small city near Montreal but just because you’re a small community doesn’t mean you can’t promote your ideas. It’s about the people in your community who help to make things happen and with Je Suis, all our citizens helped to make our program a success,” said Pilon.
“And it’s not just for us. Many people from Pincourt, Terrasse-Vaudreuil and other towns attend our events because of our inclusiveness,” said Pilon, adding that the city has already received an inquiry from a representative in Washington, D.C. who would like to know how they can implement certain parts of Je Suis program into their communities, said Pilon.
As for the detractors who downplayed the importance and prestige of the award by saying it’s impossible for a city like Vaudreuil-Dorion to win over other major cities around the world and that it’s not a real prize, Pilon said citizen participation results show that the Je Suis has become an important program that has brought people together.
“The reality is that we have a good and safe community and it’s because of the cultural program that we have,” said Pilon.