History of the Sudbury Counselling Centre (formerly Sudbury Family Service)

In the years leading to the 1960’s and 1970’s, community leaders shared a common perception that more aid and familial support was essential for the health of the community. Mr. Guy Boulard, a familial court Judge in Sudbury, who had witnessed the difficulties with access to French language services, indicated that a service which provided counselling to francophones families should be deemed an essential social service. Therefore, in 1970, he gathered community support through the Caisse Populaire, Mr. Arthur Pharand; a community Priest, Father Lacoursière and, together with the Diocese Mgr Dépatie and Donald Dennie, they created the first centre to better serve the needs of the community and began recruiting staff specializing in social services. With this community effort, The Service Familial de Sudbury was adopted and began providing the Sudbury community and area, with a professional based, volunteer driven, counselling centre.

The first board of directors was composed of 12 members and in July 1971, The Service familial began officially seeing clients. This was made possible with the collaboration of Priest Morin (who was transferred to the St-Jean-Brébeuf Parish), one coordinator who was unpaid, 20 volunteers with experience in intervention and a $1000 loan. The first establishment was organized “gratis pro Deo” by M. Henri Lapalme, a retired carpenter from the flour mill, in the basement of the St. Jean-Brébeuf church.

Counselling services were offered to everyone requiring services regardless of their primary language, religion or race, which reflected the philanthropy and the nature of the community founders. Parish bulletins and the Caisse Populaire network were the primary marketing tools in which the Service familial de Sudbury recruited over 200 families during their first year of operation.

Their primary objectives over the course of their first anniversary (1972) was to:

  • Create a repertoire of qualifies staff who were interested in volunteering their time
  • Develop new strategies for effective intervention in the following areas:
    • Parent and children relationship
    • Marital relationships
    • Familial and Community Support
    • Moral, legal, financial, psychological and sociological aspects of family dynamics

In 1972-1973, the centre had a fiscal budget $4700 and offered services to over 1500 families. The volunteer’s dedication and motivation were an important resource in the center’s success.

Between the years of 1971 to 1981, the Service Familial met their primary objectives, thanks to the support of the dedicated volunteers.

However, despite the community force behind their success in establishing this network, it became clear that the legal, professional and administrative aspects of the service provision required the hiring of professional full-time staff in order to be recognized as an incorporation. Thanks to the Ministry of Social Service and Community in the “French Programs Initiatives”, the Service Familial hired their first full time staff comprised of a director, a counsellor and secretary/receptionist in October 1981.

In the years to follow, the centre and services progressed, continually and consistently providing bilingual services. The Service Familial de Sudbury was pivotal in the development of bilingual service in the province. As a result, various sensibility and prevention programs were developed and implemented. During these years, all counselling services were offered by professional, qualified staff in intervention with education in social services with a Board of Directors comprised of 7 members adopting a model of governance driven by policy. The Children’s Aid Society, the Court of Family Services and Cambrian College were some of the organizations which fostered the rapid growth of services in the region.

During the month of January 2008. The legal name of the agency changed to the “Centre de Counselling de Sudbury” (CCS). The CCS became a member of the Family Services Canada, Family Services Ontario and the Employee Assistance Society of North America (EASNA).

2021 is a momentous year for the Sudbury Counselling Center. This year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary. Over the past 50 years, the Counselling Center has undergone many changes, names and staff, despite these changes, its measured impact on the individuals they serve and the community remains a constant and meaningful.

Since 1971, the Sudbury Counselling Center has evolved to better serve the growing needs of the community. Our 50th anniversary is an opportunity to step back in time to recognize where we are and where our future is taking us.

Since its inception, the center has proudly offered services in French and English to families in Greater Sudbury and its programming reflects the needs of the community. The Center is proud to offer not only general counselling, couples counselling and family counselling, but also offers programs targeted to the specific needs of our community; like the Violence Against Women program, the Child Witness Program for children who have lived through and / or witnessed of domestic violence, the Male Survivor program for men who have suffered sexual violence and many other programs including Employee Assistant Program, for numerous agencies and companies within the community.

In recognition of today’s reality, to celebrate our success and to take our place in the community, we have planned a few activities, recognitions and fundraising that will see us surpass the next half century.

I encourage you to navigate our website to relive the beautiful moments, memories and accomplishments of the Center, including a tour of the newly renovated space.

From all of us, past and present, thank you, Merci!