The Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation is a charitable organization that seeks to prevent poverty by promoting educational success in children from infancy to age 17. It is one of the largest private foundations in Canada.
Tracing the Path of a Ground-breaking Businessman: André Chagnon
André Chagnon, who was born in Montréal in 1928, is one of the most dynamic and innovative businessmen of his generation. Following in the footsteps of his father, an electrician and entrepreneur, Chagnon founded an electrical services company in 1957, at the age of 29. Seven years later, Chagnon sold his company in order to focus on cable television.
In 1964, Chagnon founded Vidéotron, a regional cable company. Under Chagnon’s management, and thanks to an acquisition-based growth strategy, Vidéotron became the third largest telecommunications company in Canada and the biggest in Québec.
In 1986, Groupe Vidéotron bought Télé-Métropole (now called TVA). In 1988, the company opened a branch in London, England, and in 1993 it broke into the US market. The interactive multimedia system Vidéoway, marketed in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, brought Chagnon and Groupe Vidéotron international recognition. In 1995, Chagnon was appointed to the Information Highway Advisory Council. He was invited, along with the leaders of three other Canadian companies, to participate in the G7 ministerial conference in Brussels.
Pierre Karl Péladeau, president of Quebecor Inc., acquired Groupe Vidéotron and TVA (see Radio and Television Broadcasting) in 2000 with the support of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. Groupe Vidéotron and TVA were merged to form Québecor Média Inc., a new subsidiary of the Québecor group. After 37 years at Groupe Vidéotron, Chagnon resigned from his position in management.
Creation of the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation
The Chagnon Foundation Trust was set up in 1988 as part of Groupe Vidéotron’s philanthropic activities. Following the sale of the company, the Chagnon family took over the trust and renamed it the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation.
It was during this period that the Foundation established its mission and approach: the prevention of poverty by promoting educational success. The Foundation takes into account the “individual and social factors that affect childhood development and of the actions that can contribute to achieving [the foundation’s] mission: to prevent poverty.” The Chagnon family believes that there are manyinnovative, effective, and sustainable solutions and that these solutions should be tested and put into widespread use. The Foundation’s notoriety enables it to promote its ideas, while its resources provide the means to bring those ideas to fruition. The Chagnon family’s support for the organization runs deep, having injected $1.4 billion into the Foundation in 2000.
The Foundation’s Programs
The Québec-Enfants (Québec Children) project took shape as a result of a series of consultations that took place in Canada and abroad in 2001–02. Its objective is to support local communities in fostering the social and cognitive development of young children so that they enter kindergarten in the best possible physical and psychological health (see Early-Childhood Education).
The Early Childhood Development Fund was set up in partnership with the Québec government. This $400-million fund, consisting of $250 million from the Foundation and $150 million from the Québec government spread over a 10-year period, is managed by a new non-profit organization, Avenir d’enfants (A Future for the Children).
Another branch of the Foundation, Québec en forme (Québec in Shape), supports prevention programs run by local communities. Targeting children aged 5 to 17 throughout their school years, this organization promotes physically active lifestyles and healthy eating habits (see Physical Education).
The Foundation has also established a non-profit organization called Réunir Réussir (Succeeding Together). This organization promotes a co-operative approach to reducing the school drop-out rate. It supports members of the educational system and parents, but also municipalities and the business world, in finding ways to encourage children to stay in school.
In the fall of 2009, as part of its holistic approach to child development, the Foundation launched a major campaign in partnership with the Québec government. The goal was to make parents aware of the crucial role they play in the development of their children under the age of five. The program uses touching, eye-catching ads that underscoring the importance of parents’ engagement with their children. The Foundation and the Québec government’s Secrétariat à la jeunesse du Québec (Québec Youth Secretariat) have each injected $25 million into the awareness campaign, to be spread out over five years.
The Foundation’s most effective awareness tool is Naître et grandir (Birth and Growth), which consists of both a magazine and a website targeting parents of young children.
The Foundation now has a portfolio of about 20 programs, most of which will soon come to an end. From now on, the Foundation hopes to finance projects through the three independent organizations that it has established in partnership with the Québec government: Avenir d’enfants, Québec en forme, and Réunir Réussir. The total annual amount allocated to these three partnerships is $50 million.
Sadly, the Foundation’s co-founder, Lucie Chagnon, died in August 2014 at the age of 84.
Awards and Honours (given to André Chagnon, unless otherwise indicated)
Officer of the Order of Canada (1993)
Édouard Montpetit Medal of Excellence (1993)
Induction into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame (2002)
Grand bâtisseur québécois des technologies de l’information et des communications (Québec Pioneer in Information and Communication Technologies), Fédération de l'informatique du Québec (Québec Information Processing Federation) (2003)
Medal for Exceptional Contribution to Early Childhood Development, Health Canada (2003)
Officer of the National Order of Québec (Ordre national du Québec) (2003)
Award of Merit in Philanthropy (with Lucie Chagnon), Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (Québec Federation of Chambers of Commerce) (2004)
Grand Montréalais (Great Montrealer), Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montréal (2004)
Entrepreneur of the Year 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award, Ernst & Young Québec (2005)
Gold Medal of the Order of Merit (Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation), Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec (Québec Federation of School Boards) (2007)
Honorary Doctorate, HEC Montréal (business school affiliated with the Université de Montréal) (2008)
Induction into the Telecommunications Hall of Fame (2009)
BNP Paribas Prize for Personal Philanthropy, BNP Paribas, France (2010)