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More than half of the children in the Greater Montréal Area are first- or second-generation immigrants. Many of their families have experienced situations of poverty and organized violence in their countries of origin and find themselves in a state of vulnerability in our country. Despite being exposed to severe adversity, the families underutilize available mental-health services, particularly for fear of being stigmatized.

Since 1994, the Transcultural research and intervention team (Erit) has been developing prevention and mental health promotion programs for young immigrants and refugees. Focusing on creative expression, the programs are designed for childcare services and schools. Three age-based programs have been developed to address the children’s social and developmental needs.

These creative expression programs are the fruit of close cooperation between Erit, childcare services, the educational community, government representatives and community organizations in order to address the young people’s needs and reality as well as those of the educational sector. The educational sectors (childcare and the schools) are the key links between young people, their families and the host society. They play a decisive role in the children’s academic achievement and social integration.

Since the early 2000s, Erit has been investing in post-secondary education as well as the transfer of the knowledge, know-how and people skills associated with creative expression programs into professional environments so that the programs can be replicated.