By Catherine Wright-Cadieux
A Unique Photo Exhibit Comes to Almonte during Black History Month
Almonte-based photographer, artist and author Monique Renaud is bringing a breathtaking photographic exhibit to Almonte during Black History Month that tells a soulful story and is sure to inspire women of all ages, regardless of their path in life.
The exhibit and fundraiser for Women’s Global Engagement (FEM – Femmes engagement mondial) is a wonderful testimony to Monique’s incredible journey to Africa that profoundly transformed her direction in life and her sense of self. Her decision to volunteer in Africa was a response to an invitation from her friend, Carole Lepage, President of FEM, to work at the Gîte-École Mbour (Bed and Breakfast school) for young Senegalese women. Lepage and her friends Sylvie and Chantal Bourbonnais founded FEM in April 2016.
The exhibit and fundraiser will kick off in the Centre for Creative Living at 70 Clyde Street (St. Paul’s Church) on February 8 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Visitors can also view the exhibit on February 9 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., February 10 from noon to 4:00 p.m. and for the remainder of the month.
FEM supports African women aged 16 to 25 in becoming entrepreneurs in areas such as cooking and baking and jewellery and clothing design. Housed in the B&B school, the organization’s financial support goes directly to student development. The project is sustainable as it will support young women as they grow their businesses and will set them up for success by engaging coaches to help them implement concrete business plans that will be monitored and adjusted to meet their needs over time.
To date, this investment-worthy initiative has helped 90 students and has raised $25,000.
Monique also held exhibits at Women’s Global Engagement events in Old Quebec City at Galerie d’art Urbania last October and at Gatineau’s City Hall on January 30.
A self-taught and intuitive photographer, Monique is a seasoned world traveler who has also spent time in India, Nunavut and Central America. The fruits of those adventures have resulted in several books, including Portrait of an African Woman, which will be available at February’s exhibit.
Monique spent over a month of her volunteer journey traveling throughout Senegal, and living and working with 39 young women in a tiny village at the B& B school, where she gained their trust and developed life-long friendships.
“In Senegal, the girls were blooming and so was I. I promised that I would tell their story so that they would see themselves and know who they truly are, what they are capable of and continue to believe in themselves and their dreams.”
Monique hopes her photography exhibit and her book will inspire others to dig deep, volunteer and ask themselves how they can use their gifts to help them grow, wherever they are in life’s journey.
All proceeds from the Almonte event will be donated directly to Women’s Global Engagement for the benefit of the B&B school in Senegal.