Evelyn Dumas, journalist and author (born 13 April 1941 in Saint-Georges-de-Malbaie, Québec; died 7 June 2012 in Montréal, Québec). After receiving a bachelor’s degree in education from Université Laval, Dumas studied sociology and history and earned a master’s degree at Université du Québec à Montréal. She joined the staff of Le Devoir in 1962 as its parliamentary correspondent at Québec’s National Assembly, the first woman to hold that position. From that point, her career as a journalist and author was launched, and she went on to produce many important works about the history of Québec.
Dumas was one of the first women to contribute to Cité Libre, an anti-clerical magazine that staunchly opposed the government of Maurice Duplessis and whose founders included Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Gérard Pelletier. She also contributed to Maclean's magazine and to two Montréal daily newspapers: La Presse and the Montreal Star. In 1977, as editor in chief of the sovereigntist newspaper Le Jour, she scrutinized Québec society in collaboration with the publication’s founders: René Lévesque, Jacques Parizeau and Yves Michaud. In 1984, she became editor in chief of the Québec farming weekly La Terre de chez nous.
Social and political writing and activism
Dumas wrote a number of important works on social and political topics. Her history of labour strikes in Québec from 1934 to 1944 (Dans le sommeil de nos os : quelques grèves au Québec de 1934 à 1944), published in 1971, remains a key reference on the social conflicts that roiled Québec society during the period in question. In her 1972 essay La crise de la presse en France, she presciently examined the future of the written press. In 1979, she published Un événement de mes octobres, a novel based on the October Crisis, in which she examined how the protagonists (implicitly, Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Québec premier Robert Bourassa) dealt with the kidnapping of Québec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.
Dumas was also a social activist well known for her volunteer work with an organization representing the interests of social-assistance recipients in Québec, the Front commun des personnes assistées sociales du Québec. She published a history of this organization, entitled Ensemble, se donner une voix pour mieux être, in 2002.
While pursuing her writing career, Evelyn Dumas also served as an information advisor for the Québec government offices in Boston and Chicago and as a consultant with Québec’s Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs (now the Ministry of International relations). From 1979 to 1984, she served with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, working closely with René Lévesque and applying her in-depth knowledge of the English-speaking milieu.
Evelyn Dumas received the Olivar Asselin Award in 1977 in recognition of her career as a journalist and was honoured by Québec’s National Assembly as the first female journalist to be admitted to its parliamentary press gallery.