During the October 21-22 weekend, Portage celebrated its graduates at traditional Recognition Day ceremonies across Canada. More than 250 graduates received their diploma, symbolizing the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.
50th Recognition Day Ceremony
Every year, Portage pays tribute to residents who have completed their residential program as well as those who have maintained a positive lifestyle for one year since completing their program. This year, in order to mark its 50th anniversary, the organization wanted to make the recognition ceremonies even more memorable for its graduates and their families by scheduling them all on the same weekend to emphasize the feeling of community shared by Portage members.
A Memorable Day at Place des Arts
To celebrate Portage’s 50th anniversary, its centres in the greater Montréal area decided to come together for a single, unforgettable event held at Place des Arts. Members of the Lac Écho adult and adolescent programs, the Mother-Child program and the Mental Health and Dependency program gathered at Place-des-Arts’ Maisonneuve Theatre on Sunday, October 22nd. More than 1000 people took part in this exceptional event.
The opening ceremony featured Claude Dubois, who sang his famous composition “Si Dieu existe”. It was a very emotional moment for the graduates and their loved ones. Also in attendance was Québec actor and host Emmanuel Bilodeau. As an ambassador for Portage’s 50th anniversary, Mr. Bilodeau had words of encouragement for all the graduates and their loved ones. Upon leaving the theatre, he stated “I am happy to attend this ceremony and witness firsthand the pride felt by the graduates. The Portage program has helped them overcome their dependency and look forward to a better life. What a great feeling it is to have the opportunity for a fresh start”.
We had the privilege of hearing two moving musical performances by current participants of the Lac Écho programs. In keeping with tradition, this year’s Recognition Day ceremony concluded with the distribution of diplomas, which is a moment of great pride for graduates as they walk onto the stage in front of their families and loved ones.
Mr. Peter A. Howlett, the president of Portage, also attended the ceremony as in previous years. Mr. Howlett stated how proud he is of the organization’s development over the years: “It is a great joy to celebrate both our 50th Recognition Day ceremony and our 50th anniversary at the same time! It is also an ideal opportunity to look back with pride on all the work that has been done to offer a rehabilitation process based on the therapeutic community, with its emphasis on dignity, self-respect and safety. Since Portage was founded, more than 40,000 people have taken back control of their lives and returned to school or work, or reconnected with their families”.