Cyclo Nord-Sud was born in 1998 in the basement of the Saint-Pierre-Claver Church in Montreal. Founder Claire Morrisette was inspired by the example of the Quebec Society for Cycling Education in Montreal, a Non-for-Profit organization founded in 1988, which goal is to promote cycling as a means of urban transportation, and two other American Organizations : Bikes Not Bombs, based in Boston and Pedals For Progress, based in New Jersey. Like the latter, Cyclo Nord-Sud aims to collect unused parts and bicycles to ship them to Southern communities. There, they are used as means of transportation to help fight against poverty.
To carry out her project, Claire drew on her experience with Le Monde à Bicyclette (MAB), an organization founded in 1975, in which she was involved heart and soul for 15 years as a volunteer and a group coordinator. Many bike lanes crisscrossing Montreal owe their existence to the MAB, which protested against the neglect of the needs of bike riders as well as against the lack of recognition of bikes as a practical, healthy and green means of urban transportation. Today, it is partly thanks to the efforts of the MAB that thousands of people swap their cars for bicycles.
Since then …
Many years have passed since Cyclo Nord-Sud’s first bike collection in September 1999 and its first shipment overseas in October 2000. Over the years, the team has grown from a small group of activists and six committed employees to a group that now includes more than 500 volunteers, dedicated collaborators, renowned ambassadors as well as the world-renowned environmentalist, David Suzuki, who acts as Honorary President.
The story of Cyclo Nord-Sud is also the story of many women who can now move independently, of hundreds of children who can go to school more easily, giving them more time for studies and of farmers who finally have better mobility to go to their fields as well as their markets, helping them ensure a more prosperous life for their families. Since its inception, Cyclo Nord-Sud has reached out to thousands of people, allowing them to achieve greater social justice, more equitable exchanges, but most of all, preserve their dignity.
Exhibition on women and Cycling
The Museum of Women highlighted Claire Morissette’s contribution to women’s cycling thanks to the exhibition, À vélo, Mesdames, which took place at the Bonsecours Market in the summer of 2012. This exhibition was about the history of women and cycling from 1617 until today.
World of Women Award
On February 13th 2009, the first award of the World of Women competition, organized by the Yves Rocher Foundation, was presented to Jennifer Crawford, Development coordinator at Cyclo Nord-Sud, to highlight the excellence of women who contribute to the preservation of the green world and to the improvement of the environment, while working for the well-being of the community.
Inspiration Award – CDEC Montreal
In November 2008, Director of the Economic and Community Development Corporation (Montreal Centre-North), Denis Sirois, awarded the Cyclo Nord-Sud team the Inspiration Award. “Their vision is highly challenging, both in its international dimension and its sustainable development concerns. This is a fine example of a community involvement in the success of an organization that has implemented an effective succession plan, capable of transmitting the founder’s passion.”
On October 2nd 2007, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay presented Cyclo Nord-Sud with the Thérèse Daviau Award during a ceremony in Montreal City Hall. This posthumous plaque was presented to honour Claire Morissette:
“She is one of those women entrepreneurs who brought important projects to completion thanks to her talents and generous impulses”, said Helen Fotopulos, member of the Executive Committee of the city of Montreal, responsible for the Status of Women and member of the selection committee for the award.
“Thanks to the dedication of people like Ms. Morissette, the city shows its true human face. Her determination, talent, energy and courage were remarkable. Every day, through her work and sometimes overlooked – but equally exceptional – career, she helped improving our quality of life and advancing municipal democracy. I thank her for all her activities which made a big difference in the daily lives of the people she helped”, declared the Mayor of Montreal, Gérald Tremblay.
The Phoenix Environment Award
Cyclo Nord-Sud won the Phoenix Environment Award in the category “Reduce, reuse, recycle development of waste” for the implementation of an effective system of waste management on its premises. The prize, along with $ 5,000, was awarded on June 9th, 2005 in the presence of the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Thomas Mulcair.
The Quebec Network of Women Concerned with the Environment
On January 20th 2005, this organization paid tribute to Claire Morissette, founder of Cyclo Nord-Sud during its ECODEFI conference.