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Themes - Activism

Laure Gaudreault

Photograph of Laure Gaudreault

(1889-1975)

Teacher, unionist

Source


Born in 1889, Laure Gaudreault began her teaching career in 1906, at the age of 16. Her family valued education and she was surrounded by school mistresses; her mother and her aunts were teachers. Although educated at home by her mother, she earned her teaching certificate at La Malbaie when she was 15 years old. The following year, she went to Quebec City to continue her studies at Laval teachers college, the female section of the Mérici private school.

Laure Gaudreault taught in the county of Charlevoix for many years before spending two years with the Ursulines de Québec, whom she left due to health problems. She did not immediately return to the teaching field since she had become a journalist for the newspaper Le Progrès du Saguenay and was taking advantage of this forum to catch the interest of public opinion concerning the plight of the rural school mistress.

On returning to the classroom in 1936, she noticed that working conditions for female elementary school teachers in rural areas had not evolved during her absence. Encouraged by Inspector General M.J.E. Boily, Ms. Gaudreault decided to organize the female rural elementary school teachers of the province into an association.

On November 2, 1936, the Association des institutrices rurales de la province de Québec held its founding meeting in La Malbaie. During that first year, Laure Gaudreault travelled to all the regions of Quebec; under her leadership, more than 13 regional associations of female rural elementary school teachers were created and more than 600 female elementary school teachers had become members. In 1937, during the first congress of the Association, held at La Malbaie, more than 300 rural female teachers were present. Following a meeting with the Minister in February 1937, the delegates of these associations, assembled under the heading of the "Fédération des institutrices rurales de la province de Québec", nominated Laure Gaudreault as president of the Fédération. She could now devote her time to the development of the Fédération. One of her first actions was to ensure communication among the regional associations through the publication La Petite feuille, which she edited for nine years. When the Fédération des institutrices rurales de la province de Québec was completely replaced by the Corporation des instituteurs et institutrices de la province de Québec, the publication was superseded by the periodical l'Enseignement. During this period, Laure Gaudreault looked out not only for the working conditions of female elementary school teachers, but she also laid the foundation for professional development of teaching staff through various committees and study groups.

Thus, for more than 20 years, Laure Gaudreault doggedly defended the rights of female elementary school teachers. She participated in all causes. She was known for being direct, firm and not easily deterred.

In 1945 Laure Gaudreault participated in the consolidation of the teaching associations in the province, thus creating the Corporation générale des instituteurs et institutrices catholiques de la province de Québec, better known by the acronym CIC.

In 1961, she concentrated more specifically on the fate of retirees in the teaching environment. She founded the Association des instituteurs et institutrices catholiques retraités du Québec which, in 1977, became the AREQ (Association des retraitées et retraités de l'enseignement du Québec). La Centrale de l'enseignement du Québec is the only central union in Quebec which has an association of retirees.

Throughout a career that spanned more than 60 years, Laure Gaudreault was an inspiration because of her involvement in unions and her will to change the teaching environment in Quebec so as to give teachers the professional status which was theirs by right. Teachers as well as Quebec society have benefited from her contribution to the development of unionism in Quebec.

Resources

Dorion Jacques. - "Laure Gaudreault : cinquante ans de syndicalisme enseignant au Québec". --Éducation Québec - Vol. 5, no. 10 (July/August 1975). — P. 21-30

L'Enseignement. — Vol. 1 (February 1947) - Vol. 22, no. 18 (June 20, 1969). — Quebec : Corporation des enseignants du Québec, 1947-1969.

Gaudreault, Laure. — Les Souvenirs de Laure Gaudreault : une chronique du journal l'Enseignement 1966-1967. — Quebec : CEQ, [1997] — 86 p.

Giroux, Yves; Godbout, Guillaume. — "Le mouvement syndical chez les enseignants québécois". — www.infoweb.magi.com/~godbout/Kbase/dt94-18.htm

Monet-Chartrand, Simonne. — Pionnières québécoises et regroupement de femmes d'hier à aujourd'hui. — Montreal : Éditions du remue-ménage, [1990?-1994?]. — Vol. 1. P. 254, 255, 257, 258, 437

"Un Nom pour 1991 : Laure Gaudreault". Quoi de neuf?: Bulletin de l'Association des retraités et retraitées de l'enseignement du Québec (A.R.E.Q). — Vol. 13, no. 2 (November 1990) — P. 1, 6-7

La Petite feuille. — Vol. 1 [1937]-1945/1946. — La Malbaie : Fédération catholique des institutrices rurales de la province de Québec, [1937]-1946.

Rencontre avec une femme remarquable : Laure Gaudreault [film]. - Created by Yolande Cadrin-Rossignol. — Quebec : Documentaire fiction, 1983. — 1 film 16mm, 89 min. — Colour

Rouillard, Jacques.  -  Histoire du syndicalisme au Québec : des origins à nos jours.  -  Montréal : Boréal, c1989.  -  P. 226-236

"Témoignages : Laure Gaudreault". — Bulletin du Regroupement des chercheurs-chercheures en histoire des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec. — Vol. 15, no. 3 (Fall 1989) — P. 15-30

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