Carte blanche to Claudia Larochelle | Reading, a national priority for better living in stronger Quebec

With their unique writing and their own sensitivity, the artists show us, in turn, their view of the world around us. This week, we give away carte blanche to Claudia Larochelle.

Posted at 9:00 p.m.

Claudia Larochelle
Journalist, broadcaster and writer

When I was 14, I wanted to commit suicide. Despite Jean Leloup and The Cranberries in my ears, the happy friendship, the volleyball gang, the ski gang, the student newspaper, the first sentimental emotions and my privileges as a young woman from wealthy middle class. Oh, I get tired easily. I was shaking, boiling, I was drifting. Then, for many reasons that took too long to explain, I exploded. It happened at the end of my third high school. I remember class panic attacks in the face of unbelievable looks, staying in the infirmary, then, finally, this full-time retreat for a few months in my teen’s room, my neighbors taking me to my homework, my impossible exits while out of my window, the noise of other teenagers attracted me in vain. In 1992, the word “depression” did not include young people. We’re just starting a story combustion and that only concerns the adult world of work. So I had to wait to pass it on to Enya tapes, breathing techniques, valerian herbal teas and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine trips. The health system is overloaded. There was no specific suicide plan, just the skin inside my body, I would go back home every time. However, often, dark thoughts.

Then came the books.

I’ve been reading, of course, but it’s not like this time where some titles have become buoys launched from above the waves by a new friend brighter than others, a librarian, a teacher, my mother.

By contacting the writers I have discovered, I have been able to keep my head above water, find something else to live better, soothe my grief, live my loneliness. The words of others also allow the invention of a new life.

It’s been taken away.

“Out of sadness, literature is its fulfillment and completion. It is with sadness that one enters the literature. It is through literature that we can get out of grief ”, writes Danièle Sallenave in The gift of the dead. These are the words in my native language, therefore, that have become a kind of second flesh. At the same time and unconsciously, I had to make a covenant to remain faithful to him for the rest of my life. That is my current fight for the survival of the French in Quebec.

I remember this time of the “resurrection” when I signed, at the invitation of the Union of Quebec Writers and Writers (UNEQ), the important letter published by The Press on World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, and with organizations and personalities from the worlds of book, culture, literacy, education, business and health. He asked the five parties campaigning for Quebec’s general election this year to make a commitment to make reading a national priority for at least a year.1. This request was accompanied by a request “to accompany this decision with a unique budget to allow a major awareness campaign and structuring projects to be possible”. Since reading is not the sole responsibility of the Ministries of Education and Culture and Communication, since the issues related to the development of a true reading culture are multiple and involve many ministries and organizations, the desire to create a special multidisciplinary and interdepartmental. also issued the committee.

With the “emergence” of two remarkable years of pandemic that will leave their mark on society – many of the young – and where we have not yet measured the magnitude of the consequences, I can only express my support for at this request from my peers. , to insist that it be taken seriously, considering of course how great the progress of a society, its vitality, and, returning to my own experience, mental health, also depends on reading, and, by to expand, by promoting our French language and our writers.

Supporting evidence

It has been proven that reading allows people in pain to find solutions or answers through knowledge, that it offers release, comfort or relief that reduces anxiety, sadness or grief, and sometimes “real moments of mental well -being ”, rightly wrote Pierre -André Bonnet in Bibliotherapy in general medicine. The rise in book sales at home in the pandemic, the rise in popularity of our authors and listening to the radio program The more the merrier, the more we readhosted by Marie-Louise Arsenault at the ICI Première, which has enjoyed the highest ratings in 11 years of existence, is undoubtedly no coincidence.

Daniel Pennac expressed this well in like a novel “The opposite virtue of reading is to take ourselves out of the world to find its meaning. »

More concretely, if we know that a young worker with low literacy skills spends Quebec society an average of $ 200,000 in potential lost income, including 35% in benefits. in taxes, nothing is said for the economist Pierre Langlois of Literacy as a source of economic growthan economic analysis conducted for the Literacy Foundation and the Solidarity Fund QFL in 2018, that it is not only the mental health of a society, but the economic health as well, which depends on its ability to read, understand meaning in the texts. .

In a recent study released on May 3 by the same Literacy Foundation, among Quebec’s vulnerable populations, this time around, Pierre Langlois noticed, without much surprise, the accompanying issues. in literacy and income. The high vulnerability index reaches 6% of the population aged 15 and over in Quebec, or close to 400,000 people.

“On the one hand, insufficient basic skills are an obvious barrier to employment, wage growth as well as education and vocational training. On the other hand, living in a low-income situation makes it almost impossible, without specific financial support, to deploy the resources and time required for adult learning, return to school or professional requalification ”, also highlighted the study. As you can imagine, this spiral of social and economic discovery could be even more difficult to resolve, could clearly be exacerbated in a context of issues of economic recovery after the pandemic, inflation and labor shortages.

The power of Shopenhauer

Like what, the promotion of reading in Quebec, making it a national priority, goes beyond the aspirations of some literature lovers in need of attention or the memories of a formerly depressed woman being comforted. who found something to hold on to. I have a deep conviction that many of us can lead an individual, no matter how young, into reading, even if it means trying more than once, groping a little before finding the book that moves. of unconditional love, what is its consequence in terms of proven benefits.

I remember arousing the interest of my strong-mouthed godson, and being more interested in football and cars than books, by offering him a day when he was a teenager. The art is always right by Arthur Schopenhauer. It sold for $ 4.95 in Editions des Mille et une nuits bookstores… I lit a fire, which, I’m sure. He still reads today at the dawn of his thirties, with a penchant for philosophers and debates of ideas. Victorire. Oh, he stood by me …

René Lévesque said: “The announcement is free. That’s enough to scare some young people. My mother, she took care of” hiding “some sulfurous books on the famous top shelf , behind a kind of sandstone statue that isn’t very pretty.Of course, we’ll take a walk with my sister.I’ll be quiet about these titles maybe not everyone will come close to great genius and I’ve revealed myself enough in the introduction, but I believe the forbidden parental attitude tactics worked.As adults, we still love reading.And tanning.My sister teaches elementary school, which is part of literature.She buys books for his class, he triggers literary passions every year in teaching.I am proud of him.I became a journalist, I wrote, I published.Of course, our children’s rooms were full of stories.As I remember, vinegar d in my depression at 14, all our storms, we dealt with it in books. All young people should have the same opportunities, the same rights.

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