Pierre-Luc Lajoie2 explains: “I stimulate their sense of belonging to their school and to their community. I do awareness-raising and prevention work that, I feel, eases the already daunting tasks of my professional colleagues who need to intervene.”

Pierre-Luc Lajoie and other SCGCIAs3 conceive, plan, organize and host activities that enable students to develop their spiritual life and their social conscience, and to participate in the improvement of their environment and of society. Many SCGCIAs make a mark on young people during their high school journey. 

When “spiritual” doesn’t mean “religious”

We must be careful not to confuse “spiritual life” with “religious education”, because the service is non-denominational. Its mission aims instead to help the development of identity, inner life, personal values and self-awareness.

In a time when the secularization of the state creates important social debates, this confusion puts the SCGCIAs’ survival at risk. Over the last 5 years, their number has gone from 328 in 2013–2014 to 253 in 2017–2018. That job category is obviously less and less popular in the school boards.

The forgotten SCGCIAs

“Furthermore, Minister Roberge’s school board transformation project deals another severe blow to the SCGCIAs. On the one hand, it amends the article stipulating that ‘the student is entitled to services in spiritual care and guidance and community involvement’. On the other hand, it suppresses a passage of the Education Act mentioning that the school must ‘facilitate the spiritual development of students so as to promote self-fulfillment’. We are worried that this action will contribute to the continuing decline of this job category,” claims FPPE-CSQ4 president, Jacques Landry.

Changing perceptions

To save the SCGCIAs, the FPPE-CSQ is working with the APAVECQ5 to determine what is causing the numerous job cuts of the recent years, and to update these professionals’ functions to better meet the needs of youth. “We want to change the perception of the Minister and school boards about this service that makes a difference,” concludes Jacques Landry.

1 “Change the world one student at a time” was the theme of the 2019 Education Professionals’ Week.
2 Pierre-Luc Lajoie is a spiritual care and guidance and community involvement animator at Commission scolaire du Lac-Saint-Jean and a member of the Syndicat des professionnelles et professionnels du Lac-Saint-Jean du Pays-des-bleuets et Baie-James.
3 Spiritual care and guidance and community involvement animator (SCGCIA).
4 Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec (CSQ).
5 Association professionnelle des animatrices et animateurs de vie spirituelle et d’engagement communautaire du Québec.