Saturday, May 27, 2023

Daniel Giroux, college passion in his blood

Reading time : 7 minutes


SUDBURY – Appointed fifth president of Collège Boréal in 2016, Daniel Giroux has worked there since 1996, even though nothing destined him to do so. Proud Sudburois, he led the College’s battle against COVID-19 and the preparation of several highly anticipated projects for the establishment. This father involved in his community says he dreams of seeing the target for Ontario’s Francophonie increase from 5% to 10%.

« An accountant by training, did you imagine a career in post-secondary education?

Not at all. In high school and university, I worked in construction, specifically in the masonry sector. It was really something that fascinated me. Then I started as an accountant in the field of taxation, then in a company in the mining sector, Timberock International. I became its director, which allowed me to travel a lot in the country and internationally. It’s quite funny because I didn’t really know anything about post-secondary education, or Collège Boréal.

My wife, who is a nurse and studied French at Cambrian College, knew Collège Boréal well. She called me while I was on the road in Val-d’Or, after signing a contract, to tell me that an accounting position was posted at Collège Boréal and that she had submitted my CV. At the time we had just built a house on the outskirts of Sudbury and the company I worked for was moving to Elliot Lake.

My wife absolutely did not want to leave Sudbury. At first, I was a little scared because there was no real office when I was interviewing, as the campus was under construction, but I took the plunge and quickly fell in love with the College at strength to learn and work there.

What excites you most about these roles?

I really enjoyed growing up in the College. From an accountant, I then had to manage the budget, then I was vice-president of business development and then became vice-president. So I had the chance to grow up to be able to claim the position of president. I also think that’s how varied the College’s service offering is. We are not a typical college, we are a real community college. It’s really to see all our students, clients succeed, the passion, the emotion of the families.

We sometimes see adults who return to school or after losing their job, being hired in good jobs. It is rewarding. Traveling too, discovering the uniqueness of each community, but something that brings us together is the Francophonie. It is impressive to see, whether in the support staff, the administrative staff or the academic staff, the passion and the will to see our students succeed.

Part of Collège Boréal staff. Courtesy

What impact has the pandemic had on Collège Boréal students?

It really wasn’t easy, I still remember early March 2020, when we were forced to close our doors. But what really impressed me was the resilience of our staff, who in just two or three weeks had to revise all the courses, all the programs, readapt the distance offer, and the access to laboratories. And all the students were able to finish and graduate. For me it was really impressive. We had to invest a lot of money and time in making sure to respect all the distancing measures in the activities that were to take place face-to-face. And we did everything not to close for too long so as not to penalize our students and employees.

Why will the new final campus in Toronto scheduled for early 2020-21 only open in five years?

It is a combination of several factors. First, there were administrative delays related to the protective measure required for construction. The new Ribbon Building runs along the rail line that feeds Toronto’s Union Station. So we had to make sure that the design was acceptable to all the partners, the city of Toronto, and that everything was safe.

The second element is the pandemic, which has slowed construction projects across Canada and internationally. The third thing is the adoption of certain provincial legislative measures to facilitate the construction of public transit. The Ontario line will pass through the Distillery district where the temporary campus will be, which means that approval times are longer. The good news is that with the new line, there will be two metro stations that will be very close to campus. We did not expect it and this is excellent news in the medium to long term.

So yes, the Ribbon building will not be ready in September 2023, but by having temporary spaces at the Distillery a few meters away, we will be able to contemplate the construction of the permanent campus which should be ready within five years.

Daniel giroux, college passion in his blood
Daniel Giroux, President, Lyne Michaud Vice-President for Education, Robin Craig, Director of Research & Innovation, and Daniel Leduc, Dean of the School of Applied Trades and Technologies. Courtesy

Beyond its academic mission, what role does Collège Boréal play in the cultural and economic development of the community?

As stated in our mission, Collège Boréal offers quality training and services to a diverse clientele, and I think that is really what is at the heart of our mandate. It exercises leadership to promote the sustainable development of Francophone communities in Ontario, so that is our raison d’être. What differentiates us is that Collège Boréal does not only have post-secondary programs, we offer French as a second language courses, English as a second language courses because often students need to be fluent in English to work in Ontario.

We are also trying to contribute to reducing the labor shortage by setting up new cohorts. Normally, in the college network, we start in September or sometimes in January. Well, last year we did cohorts in February, March, April and May to allow our employers to access qualified personnel more quickly, particularly in the health sector. So it’s really important for us to provide that support to our community.

You are a graduate of Laurentian University, how do you judge the trajectory of this university?

I did my business studies in French at Laurentian University and it was from there that I was able to have the means to get my designation as an accountant. So I will always remember the exceptional quality of training I got there and be a proud graduate. Of course, no one likes to see an institution experiencing financial challenges. We always have concerns when we see institutions that modify the offer of programs in French.

At Collège Boréal, it’s one of the challenges we have all the time, to try to have the same gender, or the same skills as on the Anglophone side, and we’re far from it at the moment. So yes, it’s clear that we still want to encourage the principle of by and for francophones and we will always support initiatives to have more programs offered in French.

Daniel giroux, college passion in his blood
The Collège Boréal mascot flanked by the Minister of Francophone Affairs, Caroline Mulroney, and Daniel Giroux. Courtesy

What are the next projects the College is working on?

There are things that are indeed coming and I hope to announce them soon. We have a great initiative on the side of post-secondary programming in French. I can’t talk about it yet, but I promise you very good news is coming for the Francophonie in Northern Ontario and even for all of Ontario in a few weeks. Otherwise, we are also working on the project of a wellness center in Sudbury which includes a new gymnasium, new locker rooms, an indoor running track, clinical spaces which could be real laboratories for our massage therapy students and also to the whole community.

How does the College deal with the lack of students in the North?

That’s true, but it’s not just a problem in the North: there are major shortages all over the province in the areas of health, early childhood… I think, what’s going to be important, it’s is to continue to attract students from all over the country, and also to work around Francophone immigration with our immigration service. We’re also going to promote job opportunities after our training, with what we call our Boréal guarantee, which is totally unique. If ever you can’t find a job one year after your graduation, you can come back and enroll in a program and it’s fully supported by Collège Boréal.

How does your institution adapt its courses to the labor needs in Ontario?

Each program we offer has an advisory committee that meets once a year. It meets to re-evaluate the content of the programs according to the labor market to adjust accordingly. Sometimes there are related jobs that are in need of recruitment so we do a market analysis, we consult employers. Sometimes, we also use recognition of prior learning for adult clients to recognize their experience. We always try to consult employers and find a solution to the labor shortage, like when we created our personal support worker program.

Daniel giroux, college passion in his blood
Daniel Giroux is a walleye fishing enthusiast Courtesy

What do you like to do in your free time?

I have two boys who play hockey at a high level. I love seeing them play, especially now that you can go in person. Then I can’t wait to be in the summer to go back fishing, especially walleye fishing. We have a cabin on Lake Kipawa, and I have been fishing for many years with my boys. We like that a lot. »


1971: Birth in Quebec (during a trip by his parents)

1997: Hired by Collège Boréal

2007: Becomes vice-president of teaching at Collège Boréal

2016: Appointed President of Collège Boréal

2020: Celebrates the 25th anniversary of Collège Boréal with the 4 former presidents of the college

Every weekend, ONFR+ meets with a player in Francophone or political issues in Ontario and Canada.

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