The Beginnings of the Association Parmi-Elles
The Association Parmi-Elles saw the light of day at the end of the 1970s when a group of single mothers decided to take charge and find a way to support their families without having to count on government benefits. The members met up frequently to discuss the various projects they could put in place to get jobs for a number of women in need. To ensure the survival of their group, the women decided to found the Association Parmi-Elles, which would be a non-for-profit organization that aims to promote autonomy and the well-being of women through job creation. Moreover, in order for them to access the higher-paying labour market, the Association would encourage the training of women in the business sector.
The Beginnings of La Maison Verte
In the spring of 1981, the Association Parmi-Elles, wanting to reach its goals, received funds from Jobs and Immigration Canada to hire a liaison officer who would take care of the organization of the Association and help find a project. Their hope became a reality when they landed on a greenhouse project for the growth of seedlings destined for reforestation.
At first, it was difficult for the Association to imagine the possibility of such an endeavor because the financial investments were far too high. After extensive research and the preparation of numerous documents demonstrating the viability of such a project, Jobs and Immigration Canada was ready to cover the development cost of the project and the startup operating expenses until La Maison Verte was able to begin its commercial activity. On his part, the Minister of Natural Resources was committed to contributing $180 000, that is to say 50% of the capital investment cost for the construction of the greenhouses. He also signed a five-year contract, starting in 1983, for the purchase of 2 million container seedlings for the replanting of our forests. In July of 1982, the Association Parmi-Elles got the green light from both Ministers to begin the construction of the greenhouse complex.
The Structure of La Maison Verte
In order to acquire the legal tool for attracting capital, the Association Parmi-Elles created La Maison Verte, a profit-making corporation. This corporation is directed by an Administrative Council consisting of six members of the Association and four people elected by 77 local investors. These investors possess ‘golden shares’ with fixed cumulative dividends that are redeemable after 5 years and include the right to vote at the Annual General Assembly. The majority representation of the Association Parmi-Elles in the Administrative Council of La Maison Verte was one of the requirements for obtaining the financial contribution of Jobs and Immigration Canada. This was an effort to ensure that the project would continue to belong to the group and that decisions concerning La Maison Verte would never eliminate the presence of the Association. The latter is also the only ordinary shareholder emitted by La Maison Verte.
In 1987, all of the ‘golden shares’ were redeemed and the Association Parmi-Elles became the sole owner of La Maison Verte. The Administrative Council of La Maison Verte continues to include non- members of Parmi-Elles in order to draw from the expertise of those in other sectors that they do not necessarily have. The affairs of La Maison Verte are conducted today by an Administrative Council composed of 7 members, the majority of which are members of the Association Parmi-Elles.
"Clé de Voute" Prize
In 2014, the Association Parmi-Elles was awarded the “Clé de Voute” Prize at the 21st edition of the Jeux Franco-Ontariens!
Each year, the “Clé de Voute” Prize is given to a model Francophone from Ontario who, like Judith Charest, is the embodiment and agent of change in their community and advocates the cause of women.
Congratulations to all the women who believed in the beautiful project that is La Maison Verte and THANK YOU!