It’s Time to Reclaim the Institution des Sourdes-Muettes

In 2015, the Gouvernement du Québec announced its intention to sell the former Institution des Sourdes-Muettes located on St-Denis Street. The CLPMR immediately began mobilizing so that this historical site could continue to serve the population’s interests and not become condos, which is what happened with the Institut des Sourds on St-Laurent Street. 

In October 2017, a town hall was organized to discuss the site’s future, during which a working committee was struck. Its mission is to ensure that the Institution des Sourdes-Muettes retain a social, public and community purpose and that part of the site be dedicated to social housing and activities by and for the Deaf community. The committee has since been meeting on a monthly basis and has taken action on many fronts, such as visiting the borough council, meeting with the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI), submitting a petition to the National Assembly, collecting letters of support from organizations, attending borough meetings, attending a meeting with the Ville de Montréal, organizing an information table during the International Week of the Deaf, writing general guidelines, etc. Click here to read the report from the town hall (available in French) 

In September 2019, the Institution des Sourdes-Muettes committee held a large community consultation to decide the future of the site’s social housing project. The committee had already been learning about the different types of possible housing (NPO, co-op) through training sessions held by Atelier habitation Montréal, a resource group that supports and guides the committee in its work. The decision was unanimous: the social housing project would be a housing NPO called Maison Ludivine Lachance.  

Ludivine Lachance is an important historical figure in the Deaf community. At age three, she became deaf and spent her teenage years with the Sisters of Providence. She was eventually brought to the Institution des Sourdes-Muettes, a specialized institution founded in 1864 in Montréal. Isolated, weak and barely stimulated for years, Ludivine’s life was turned upside down as she navigated new places and strange faces. She could only communicate her feelings and distress through fits of crying, yelling and lashing out physically. However, after only a few months of exposure to the sisters’ pedagogical techniques, she learned how to communicate, take initiative, and think in abstract terms. She went on to live in the Institution des Sourdes-Muettes for eight years and died from tuberculosis in 1918. Emotions ran high during the formal evening that was held on November 2021 of last year to celebrate the opening of the Maison Ludivine Lachance. Over one hundred people were in attendance, and many people from the Deaf community shared testimonies and spoke about how important it was to reclaim this site. Borough mayor Luc Rabouin also spoke about our duty to the Deaf community to preserve its history. Click hereto read the report on the Maison Ludivine Lachance Launch (available in French) 

Work on this project is progressing well. The City of Montréal has agreed that the site should serve a social, public and community purpose and include social housing, and will be submitting different ideas for the site’s reconversion with this shared vision in mind. In 2020-2021, the committee will continue to develop the NPO’s governance and work toward solidifying construction plans for social housing on the site!