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Janette-Bertrand prize

Crédit photo : Claude Guillet

Who is Janette Bertrand?

Janette Bertrand is an actress, but also a journalist and writersQuebec. Janette Bertrand was born in the Centre-Sud district, at the corner of Ontario and Frontenac streets, in Montreal. She studied literature at the University of Montreal, which led her to become a journalist in 1950. At the Petit Journal, she was entrusted with a column that made her aware of the demands of feminists. 

Subsequently, it becomes radio host  for the daily program My husband and us, broadcast by CKAC  for several years. In the late 1950s, she wrote for Radio Canada le téléroman You and me, depicting the adventures of a couple where the main roles are played by her and her husband, John Lajeunesse. Always with John Lajeunesse, she then hosts the game quiz Adam or Eve to Tele-Metropolis  where the participants are married couples.

Alone this time, she becomes the teenagers' confidante at How why ?, a program where she strives to reassure young people and answer their questions as much as the context of the early 1960s allows, that is to say by completely ignoring sexual relations. Then in The school of happiness, the mail she receives inspires sketches where couples are grappling with various matrimonial problems, problems which each time find their solution, divorce being still too frowned upon at that time.

Next is What a family! (aired between 1969-1974 at Radio Canada), a family show that involved several members of his own family, including John Lajeunesse  and their dog Macaire. This show aired in France  under the title The Tremblays. This comedy will be followed by another: Grandpa, where John Lajeunesse  this time plays a composition role, that of the grandfather of a family struggling with the problems of the 70s.

Then, she hosts a televised meeting where people are invited to express themselves on various subjects that affect people closely: the family, the couple, sexuality, etc. For this issue, titled talk to talk, she takes care of both research and the script. Parler pour parle was created by director Gaëtan Lavoie.

With serial With a capital A, it offers drama that tackles subjects that were still taboo or controversial at the time, such as domestic violence, the distress of elders,homosexuality and the AIDS.


Definition of the Janette Bertrand Prize

Prize awarded to a non-LGBTQ+ personality or non-LGBTQ+ organization who has made a significant contribution to the fight against homophobia and transphobia through a particular outstanding action or repeatedly, through ongoing involvement.


An unconditional ally, and for a long time

When, in 1953, Janette Bertrand inaugurated her career, first as a courier from the heart in , one of the most popular written media of the time, she made the choice to give voice to the voiceless, to people who felt isolated , rejected or excluded. How ? By publishing as is, and without censorship, the very moving letters she receives, including many SOS messages from gay men and lesbian women to whom she gives courage and hope by encouraging them to accept themselves. At that time, the Church condemned homosexuality without any nuance, science considered it a mental illness (until December 1973) and the law punished it as a crime (until 1969). Her correspondents tell her about their isolation, sometimes their depression, even suicidal thoughts, and Janette listens to them without ever judging, encouraging everyone, starting with their loved ones, to do the same.

When she will spend a few years later on television (with her programs How Why, The School of Happiness, Janette wants to know, SOS I listen, Parler pour parle, Janette tout court, With a capital A), she will keep the same formula: give the floor and listen at length, to better understand, without judging. This often scandalizes civil and religious authorities, who will sometimes denounce it publicly, but the public follows! She will be the first to invite, live on TV, gay men, lesbian women, transgender people and bisexual people to talk about their experiences. Also the first to give voice to people with AIDS, victims of sexual assault, sex workers, homeless people, the complete list of very sensitive subjects that she tackled at the time would be long.

In her own writings, in particular her scripts played on TV "With a capital A", she will also make ample room for sexual and gender diversity in order to undo the prejudices and taboos that persist. The seventy pages devoted to these questions in his book published in 2018 and co-written with professor and researcher Michel Dorais also shows this eloquently.

In short, as a popular sexuality educator (before this concept even existed!), Janette Bertrand was one of the most avant-garde and certainly among the greatest and most constant allies that the LGBTQ+ community has known throughout history. of Quebec.


An agent of change

Janette Bertrand has made a significant contribution to changing mentalities in Quebec for the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people by ensuring that, via newspapers, television but also books (she has always encouraged people to read to perfect their knowledge) , their realities are better known. Ignorance often being the source of prejudice, she knew above all that by giving the floor live, without censorship or cutting, to LGBTQ+ people, she gave faces to their realities. By countering the lack of knowledge about the living conditions of LGBTQ+ people, it has thus contributed directly to improving their condition and their well-being.


An example for future generations

By awarding the Janette Bertrand Prize, Ms. Janette Bertrand's contribution to the cause of LGBTQ+ people will not only be honored but will continue. His pioneering involvement will serve as an example, even a model of inclusion, respect and even affection and love for LGBTQ+ people, thus inviting allies to persevere in their support, despite homophobia and transphobia. , whose forms are sometimes insidious and multiple.



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Emergence Foundation Inc.
CP 55510
Center Maisonneuve
Montreal, QC, H1W 0A1

(438) 384-1058

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