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Small Town Paper writes profile on home grown Louise Malenfant

Wednesday, February 06, 2002 6:11 PM

Subject: Small Town Paper writes profile on home grown Louise Malenfant

Hey Everyone,

My hometown newspaper just published the writeup of my work below; small town or not, they did a hell of a job of capturing the spirit that spurs my work as the Family Advocate of Parents Helping Parents.  No matter how many times you get published, there is something about your hometown paper...

I thought you would enjoy it so here it is.  It was published with my trademark shot from the National Post, the same one on my website, which has been published eight times by the Post because I don't ever let them take a new one:)

Yours, Louise Malenfant

Working for change

Malenfant advocates men's rights

By Doug Pronger
Staff Reporter

A Dryden High School graduate, Louise Malenfant is resolutely passionate about changing the child welfare system in this country. An articulate and outspoken woman, Malenfant has already made an impact in Manitoba and has become a leading men's rights advocate in Canada.

Struck by the skyrocketing rate of allegations of sexual abuse in divorce proceedings and the highly antagonistic relationship between the child welfare system and the community served by it, Malenfant realized that changes were drastically needed.

In 1994, she founded Parents Helping Parents (PHP), a family advocacy support group and since then, has changed the lives of many men who were falsely accused of child abuse during divorce and assisted in the reunification of nearly 200 children with their families.

A sociologist by training, Malenfant recalls her first task was identifying methods to distinguish the difference between true and false allegations of child abuse, to ensure that persons seeking help received fair investigations from the child welfare system.

Through numerous lawsuits and case histories, she introduced a new approach to fairness for the community and established the credibility of PHP with public and social institutions in Manitoba. By 2000, PHP was no longer needed as a watchdog in the province of Manitoba, as the problem of false allegations had largely disappeared from the community. In September 2000, she headed to Alberta and more challenges.

Malenfant is candid about her early years growing up in Dryden and quick to acknowledge two men who influenced her career.

"I had some difficulties figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do. I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself and it was the high school principal, Ralph McNaughton, who said I could achieve anything I wanted to if I put my mind to it. He opened the door for me to become a news announcer at CKDR. The reporting skills that I learned under Hugh Syria's relentless tutelage - taking people's stories, being accurate, finding sources - are skills that I use today when I investigate a case," she said.

Her crusade in bringing gender fairness to family law across Canada won't stop in Edmonton. Malenfant expects to move on to Calgary for two years, then Victoria and finally Toronto. Her dedication, once again, shows up in her attitude towards financial considerations.

"Part of the devastation of family law in this country is the obscene legal fees that go with the experience, and I just don't want to be part of that," she says.

"For that reason, I rely on donations to keep the operation going, but look forward to receiving the charitable tax number this year that will allow for more traditional fund-raising."

Does she have any advice for others who see the need for social change and would like to try and do something about it? She responded to the question this way: "A lot of people are cynical about politics and therefore pessimistic about one person's ability to change things. They give up before they start with that attitude, and contribute to their own failure. You have to believe that change is possible before you can accomplish anything."

She says another trap some activists fall into is being constantly critical and insulting of anyone who doesn't agree with them. "The secret of my success is that I approach everyone with courtesy, and I don't give them an excuse to slam a door in my face. Instead of moralizing or questioning the integrity of a social worker or a politician, it is so important to believe that almost everyone wants to do their job well."

Malenfant believes that change doesn't have to be revolutionary, and usually isn't. "It's a gradual process of changing people's minds over time with a powerful message."

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Posted 2002 03 07

Parents Helping Parents

Louise Malenfant

malenfant.jpg (2818 bytes)

Family Advocate, Parents Helping Parents

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Louise Malenfant passed away in 2006.  She is being missed.


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