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SPU Alumni Establish an Innovative Shared Housing Model in the Ottawa Region


OTTAWA, Thursday, August 3, 2023 — Saint Paul University stands out for its programs that train the next generation of social and community activists. This reputation is due, in large part, to our graduates who are making a significant impact in their communities.

Every year, nearly 400 committed students graduate and becoming true ambassadors of social change. In 2022, two graduates stood out. Mireille Leroux (G.D. Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship, 2016) and Megan Sicard (B.A. Social Innovation, 2021) turned to social entrepreneurship to put their academic training and social commitment to work for the community.

Saint Paul University offered human-centric programming, which appealed to me. I first heard the term 'social innovation' while studying at SPU, which I took to mean implementing new solutions to social problems or going back to our roots and what worked before.The collaboration between the Élizabeth-Bruyère School of Social Innovation and the Mauril-Bélanger Social Innovation Workshop has contributed to my professional and personal development by offering me a space for co-creation and sharing, and by providing me with courses that have changed my perspective and developed my critical thinking on many social issues. Studying in the social innovation program was a memorable experience that allowed me to develop practical skills, such as setting up the Habitations Partagées Mirela organization of which I am now president, but also to face the obstacles that come with a program under development.

Megan Sicard

B.A. in Social Innovation, 2021

The two Saint Paul University graduates — as well as a member of the University’s staff, who is also an alumni — have set up a non-profit organization whose mission is to connect and support people wishing to share a home in order to help each other, break their isolation, and find safe, affordable housing in and around the Ottawa region.

Thanks to its innovative shared housing model, the organization builds and strengthens bridges between generations and cultures. It also contributes to the resilience of Franco-Ontarian individuals and communities in an ever-evolving environment.

Habitations Partagées Mirela is the result of a profound desire to live differently, in a spirit of sharing and mutual assistance, to flourish together for the well-being of the entire community. I am thankful for SPU’s Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentoring program, which transformed me from the inside out and gave me the impetus to embody the change I want to see in my community.

Mireille Leroux

G.D. Contemplative Theology and Spiritual Mentorship, 2016

Having completed the first draft of the project as part of a series of workshops to support social innovation and community development, the team continued to develop the organization’s business plan, until they were awarded the $10,000 Desjardins Social Innovation Grant, enabling them to officially incorporate the organization in 2021.

A true model of community leadership, these two Franco-Ontarian graduates have rallied the community behind their idea. Sponsored by the Mauril-Bélanger Social Innovation Workshop, the volunteer-based organization now boasts six board members, five pairings, a website and three grants to its credit.

Interested in the shared housing model? Follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram, or visit their website.

Pour de plus amples renseignements :

For more information, please contact:
Julie Bourassa
Communications Officer, Saint Paul University
613-236-1393, ext. 2310

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