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An inexhaustible source of imagination and innovation

MIRA, as is the province of Quebec, is an inexhaustible source of imagination and innovation.

When I founded MIRA in 1981, I was convinced that I had an infallible recipe to help people affected by important visual disorders.

At the time, no Canadian guide dog training facility existed. MIRA, located in Sainte-Madeleine in the province of Quebec, was the first training centre to open its doors. Before 1981, people had to contact American organisations to receive a guide dog. However, these resources did not provide services in French.

The MIRA journey began when I received a call from a friend working at the Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille (INLB). She wanted me to take a look at the erratic behaviour of a dog from an American training center. I certainly had expertise on canine behaviour, but was a novice when it came to commenting about visual disorders or blindness. Thus, I was cautious when writing up my report. The dog was visibly confused and unprepared to the climate of our magnificent but sometimes difficult province, particularly during winter.

Subjugated as Ulysses the traveler, I had finally found a relevant reason to ask my dogs to leave aside their reality as domestic dogs to dedicate themselves to the service of humans mistreated by Mother Nature.

MIRA, as is the province of Quebec, is an inexhaustible source of imagination and innovation: "The barriers we see are the ones that we can cross. The insurmountable are invisible!"

In 29 years, MIRA collected “firsts”. The first Canadian guide dog (for the blind) training centre, the only French-speaking organisation in North America, the first and only school in the world to provide guide dogs to teenagers and children aged of less than 15 years old, and the first breeding centre to develop the first highly specialized guide dog and assistance-trained dog race.

MIRA is 29 years of love and passion of concocting a recipe which feeds the one forgotten by Mother Nature.

MIRA is yours. The foundation is part of Quebec’s heritage. May you support and protect it for the next 25 years.

Éric St-Pierre, O.C. CEO and Founder MIRA Foundation

Biography

Éric St-Pierre was born on August 2, 1947 in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec. He is the son of Raymond and Blanche (born Messier) St-Pierre and father of one child, Nicolas.

He has always been passionate about dogs. At age seven, he trained the family farm dogs using the techniques he learned from his father. Éric was famous in the neighborhood as a dog lover.

In addition to his love for animals, Éric also has a passion for music; he sings, plays the guitar and the piano. After several years in the entertainment industry, he decided to refocus his energies in the field of canine training.

Éric took a few courses and began training guard dogs and sniffer dogs. He’d been working with these dogs for several years when a friend, working at the Nazareth and Louis-Braille Institute called, asking for his help. Although guide dogs were not Éric’s field of expertise, his ability to communicate with dogs had earned him a good reputation. Éric was instrumental in helping a person with visual impairments to adapt to her new life with the guide dog she had just received from an American school. This experience changed his life.

In 1981, guided by a passion for dogs and a willingness to help people with visual impairment and physical disability, Éric St-Pierre founded the first francophone guide dog training center in Canada.

Devoted to the health and well-being of assistance dogs and attentive to people in need, Éric was actively involved in the growth and transformation of his training center, which has now become an impressive site. It has two accommodation buildings, a canine nursery, a kennel, a veterinary clinic, an administration building, as well as the Schola Mira, which provides intervention services for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and training services and support to parents, relatives and professionals who wish to acquire or expand their knowledge.

In addition to being the founder and CEO of Mira, Éric is a breeder, trainer and mentor. Through his leadership, Éric and his team have delivered more than 2,000 dogs to people with visual impairments or physical disabilities in Canada, France, Mexico and Brazil. In doing so, Éric has helped each recipient become independent and live life to the fullest.

In recognition of his outstanding achievements, several awards and distinctions have been bestowed upon Éric:

• 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal (1992)

• The Richelois Excellence Award (1995)

• Entrepreneur Of The Year Award, in the Community Services Category (1995)

• The "Grand Richelois" Award (1996)

• Honorary member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (1996)

• Title of Officer of the Order of Canada (1997)

• Title of Knight of the National Order of Quebec (2011)

• Personality of the Week La Presse / Radio-Canada (2011)

• Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)

Prix du civisme 2016

décerné par l’Association canadienne de l’Ordre National du Mérite de la France

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