VISAJ was created in 2008 thanks to the sustained efforts of sociogeographer, Michel Perron.
Holder of a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate in health geography, Michel Perron began his career in 1973 as a teacher in social work techniques at the Cégep de Jonquière. Renown as a builder, he co-founded the Groupe d’Étude des COnditions de vie et des BESoins de la population (ÉCOBES) at Cégep de Jonquière in 1982. He subsequently founded the first regional consultation body on school perseverance and educational success in Quebec, the Conseil Régional de Prévention de l’Abandon Scolaire (CRÉPAS). He is also, with Mr. L. Jacques Ménard, one of the instigators of the Groupe d’Action sur la Persévérance et la Réussite Scolaires, established in 2008.
Hired at UQAC in the summer of 2008 as a regular professor in the Department of Human Sciences, Michel Perron created two new courses there: “Geographic space, population and health” as well as “Sociogeography of education in Quebec and around the world.” It was in the fall of that same year that he founded the UQAC–Cégep de Jonquière Chair on the Conditions de Vie, la Santé et les Aspirations des Jeunes (living conditions, health and aspirations of youths) (VISAJ), the result of a unique collaboration in Quebec between a university, UQAC, and a college, Cégep de Jonquière. Until his retirement from UQAC in the summer of 2015, Michel Perron directed many projects within VISAJ specifically relating to the mobilization of communities and territorial inequalities in student retention.
Since 2011, Michel Perron has been working on another unifying and innovative project: to make Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean the first educational region in Quebec. He remains, even today, associated with numerous research, mobilization and knowledge transfer projects in Quebec and France. He is the author of more than 150 publications and has given as many conferences.