Since 1960, the Gaspé Peninsula, like the rest of Québec, has experienced a rapid and intense schooling. With the creation of the Ministry of Education, the Baie-des-Chaleurs, Péninsule, des Monts and Gaspésia regional school boards were created in 1964, serving the entire peninsula in terms of high school education. Simultaneously, local school boards were set up, which were responsible for primary education. At the same time as these new school boards were being organized and a string of comprehensive schools were being built all around Gaspésie, the Gaspesians had to fight to preserve and develop the college level of education.
The Ministry of Education was then preparing to organize a network of public colleges throughout Québec. In Québec, the officials decided that there would be no public college in Gaspésie and that in order to better educate the Gaspesian youth, it was necessary to entrust them to the Collège de Rimouski.
On August 21, 1965, the Minister of Education, Paul Gérin-Lajoie came to Prével to officially announce the news. The announcement came as a bombshell and, facing a strong public reaction, the government had to change its mind. The college institutions of the Gaspé region organized themselves into a committee called the “Comité d’organisation du Cégep en Gaspésie et aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine.” Actions, talks and correspondence followed one another and, on November 22, 1967, the Mission des cégeps, a creation of the Ministry of Education, went to Gaspé to hear the Gaspesians plead their case.
Creation of the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles
At the end of the meeting, confidence reigned, and on March 19, 1968, the new Minister of Education, Jean-Guy Cardinal, announced the creation of the Cégep de la Gaspésie in Gaspé. This was an important victory. It is unreasonable to think that, without a CEGEP, young people in the Gaspé would have had such easy access to college studies.
In 1968, the Cégep de la Gaspésie was established in Gaspé, with a French section, an English section, and a continuing education department.
This general and professional educational institution integrated the following educational institutions: the Séminaire de Gaspé (enlarged in the early 1950s), the École des infirmières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Gaspé, the École des pêcheries in Grande-Rivière, the École des métiers in Gaspé, the Écoles normales anglaises et françaises in Gaspé, Carleton-sur-Mer, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and the Magdalen Islands.
The Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles has thus taken over a tradition of post-secondary and university education that had been established in the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands through arduous work since the beginning of the century. It has fulfilled its mission to ensure access to higher education for all Gaspesians and Magdalen Islanders.
Fisheries Sector Recognition
In 1983, the Quebec government recognized the importance of the fisheries sector for the region and for Quebec by creating, in Grande-Rivière, the Centre spécialisé des pêches, which was to become the École des pêches et de l’aquaculture du Québec (ÉPAQ).
At the same time, the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) was concerned, as early as 1969, with the decentralization of its teaching and the development of part-time programs over a vast territory extending from La Pocatière to Gaspé, in addition to the Magdalen Islands and the Hauterive region. In this regard, a first agreement was concluded between the University and the CEGEP continuing education services in 1971, with the aim of establishing collaboration and sharing adult student clientele. However, it was in 1974 that UQAR began a real policy of decentralizing its part-time teaching with the creation of three regional offices: in Gaspé, Carleton and Matane. These three centers covered the entire Gaspé territory, including the Magdalen Islands.
Creation of the Montreal Campus
In January 2015, the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles took another crucial step by opening a campus in Montreal. In fact, the CEGEP and Collège Matrix signed a first agreement to allow, in May of the same year, the arrival of the first thirty-five students at the new Montreal campus of the Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles. Building on this experience, the CEGEP and Collège Matrix signed a new agreement on June 13, 2019, that aimed to make the Montreal campus activities sustainable for the next ten years.