Jacques Hébert (1923 – 2007)

Our Founder Jacques Hébert

A writer, editor, politician, and tireless globetrotter who travelled to more than 130 countries around the world, Jacques Hébert was inspired by a deep commitment to young people and a desire to bring cultures closer together.

Born in Montreal on June 21, 1923, Mr. Hébert studied at Collège Sainte-Marie in Montreal, St. Dunstan’s College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and the École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal, where he earned a licentiate degree in commerce in 1945.

A contributor to the French-language daily Le Devoir (1951-1953), he also founded two publishing houses-Éditions de l’Homme (1958) and Éditions du Jour (1961)-and wrote many books, including Two Innocents in Red China (1960, in collaboration with Pierre Elliott Trudeau), J’accuse les assassins de Coffin (1963), The World is Round (1976), and, most recently, La comtesse de Merlin (2004).

From 1962 to 1970, Mr. Hébert worked as host and writer for Radio-Canada, and from 1965 to 1974, he was president of the Association of Canadian Publishers. In 1963, along with Pierre Elliott Trudeau, he co-founded the Civil Liberties Union, and he served as president of that organization from 1970 to 1972.

A man of ideas and action, Mr. Hébert worked hard to promote the development of young people. In 1971, inspired by his many travels around the world, his love of other cultures, and his desire to help build a more peaceful world, he founded Canada World Youth (CWY), an innovative program offering international educational programs for youth aged 17 to 21.

CWY gives young people from different cultures a chance to live together and work on volunteer projects. It is distinguished from other similar organizations by the reciprocal nature of its program, which is divided into two parts: in the first, young people from Canada and another country live and work in a Canadian community and, in the second, they move to a host community in the partner country. This provides a unique opportunity for the young people to cultivate an appreciation of differences and learn to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and constructive manner.

CWY has organized programs in more than sixty-seven countries around the world and counts almost thirty thousand former participants. These programs have had an undeniable impact on both young people and society as a whole; a 2006 study revealed that CWY programs have left a strong, lasting impression on participants and members of host communities across Canada and around the world.

In 1977, Mr. Hébert drew on his experience with Canada World Youth to found a second youth organization, Katimavik, which focused on giving young people a volunteer experience in Canada.

In 1983, Mr. Hébert was appointed to the Senate of Canada, where he held several positions, including Chairman of the Special Senate Committee on Youth (1984-86). He retired from political life in 1998.

Mr. Hébert’s strong leadership skills, extraordinary career, and ability to motivate and inspire others earned him numerous honours. He was made Officer of the Order of Canada and Knight of the Ordre de la Pléiade; he was awarded an honourary doctoral degree from Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnic University; and he was nominated for the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Jacques Hébert passed away in Montreal on December 6, 2007.

Cet article est également disponible en FR.