In order to channeltheir energy in a positive fashion and in view of the limited activities available to them, a group of youngsters including Earl De La Perralle and Sid Stevens, respectively 9 and 13 years old at the time, created in 1954 a handwritten newspaper called "The Clark Street Sun". The newspaper is a reflection of the everyday life of these inner-city disadvantaged children from a largely immigrant-populated neighbourhood. Rather than being sold, the Clark Street Sun, which is only printed in two copies (the original and a carbon copy) is loaned to families in the area at 2 cents a copy. The profits allowed them to finance the purchase of sports equipment and the organization of sports and recreation activities.
Today, Sun Youth’s co-founders Earl De La Perralle and Sid Stevens are still at the helm of the organization.
Sun Youth is a registered charity and a non-profit organization. It derives most of its revenue from many generous private and corporate donors and relies on the faithful cooperation of community and humanitarian organizations, of municipalities and governmental instances as well as that of media partners.
1954 - 1967
The First Years
The Clark Street Sun newspaper was first created in the kitchen of Sid Stevens' parents. Shortly after, the youngsters began to search for a permanent place to serve as headquarters. A local shoemaker (Weiner Shoe Shop) agreed to lend them the back store of his St. Cuthbert store for free so they could work on the production of their weekly newspaper. Operation in the first year generated a record amount of $500! Over the years, the production resources were improved. The newspaper was now printed with photos, feature articles and even advertising for local businesses. Profits were still used for the purchase of sports equipment as well as for the rental of a gymnasium for sports and recreation activities. As of 1964, The Clark Street Sun was renamed "The Sun" and the youth group which it supported became known as "The Sun - Youth Organization".
1967 - 1981
In 1967, the year of Montreal's Universal Exposition, the youngsters moved their headquarters into a small building at the foot of Mount Royal (corner Park and Mont-Royal), thanks to the Mayor of Montreal at the time, Jean Drapeau. These larger premises allowed increased diversification of the organization's activities. Attention is focused on the problems youths attending the organization are facing. Food assistance was offered sporadically, mainly during the Holiday period. It is also the beginning of on-site assistance to fire victims and of a community crime prevention program, including exchanges with the community on topics such as neighborhood watch, abuse of drugs and alcohol, shoplifting and dangers surrounding the abduction of children. Bicycle safety workshops were also organized in collaboration with the police. During this time, "The Sun", published weekly, becomes monthly paper as the young founders wish to devote their resources and energy on helping the needy. The newspaper ceased publication in 1978 but will have left its mark in the Montreal community landscape.
1981 - 2004
A Full-Fledged Community Organization
The year 1981 brought many changes. First, the organization moved to its current St. Urbain Street headquarters, the former Baron-Byng High-School. It was also the year Sun Youth became the first Food Bank in Montreal, the second in Canada after the Edmonton’s food bank which was created the previous year. Sun Youth Organization adopts the French legal name of Jeunesse au Soleil. Over the years that followed, Sun Youth implemented various programs to help people in need and worked since the mid-1990s to assist victims of major disasters affecting populations here and abroad. Some thirty different programs are now offered by the organization’s three divisions: Emergency Services, Crime Prevention and Sports & Recreation. Sun Youth also operates its own camp located in Rivière-Rouge (L'Annonciation sector) in the Laurentians.
50 Years of Community Service
Sun Youth celebrated its 50th Anniversary in May 2004. For the occasion, the organization brought together partners and friends in the Chalet of Mount Royal. Several dignitaries were present to celebrate Sun Youth's 5 decades of service to the community. In preparation for this event, Sun Youth made its entry in the online world by creating its first website. By doing so, the organization acquired an additional tool to inform its donors and its clientele on the various services that it offers and how people can support to Sun Youth's mission. The website served as a complement to the brochures and pamphlets already published by the organization.
A New Start
Sun Youth mandated Écorce Atelier Créatif to review the image of the organization and to provide it with a web platform where it is as easy for the user to obtain information quickly as well as to make a donation at any time, to draw attention to the daily actions of Sun Youth and generate interest and public participation.