Info-Cult is recognized for its expertise and the quality of its services, particularly in the support offered to families and people affected by cultic phenomena. The organization pursues its mission to inform the public and continues to promote research and reflection on group dynamics in order to more effectively intervene when needed.
Much like the groups it observes, Info-Cult has experienced many changes since its founding in 1980, whether in terms of its:
structure and operation;
clientele and services provided;
A more in-depth examination of the history of the organization and its beginnings makes it possible to better understand its development and the transformations of its perspective on cultic phenomena. It is also possible to consult a selection of press clippings HERE.
This section includes some of the defining moments of Info-Cult.
Along with a decline in traditional religious institutions as well as a certain undermining of normative values, the last century has witnessed a change in religious institutions, paving the way for a rise in new forms of religiosities or various spiritual quests. These changes were also accompanied by a marked growth in the number of groups with different callings (religious, spiritual, political, therapeutic, etc.). During the 1960s, the proliferation of these groups sparked public curiosity and a need for information. One wonders what is attractive about these groups, especially among young adults, whose lifestyle tends to change radically following contact with a group. Towards the end of the 1970s, concerns about “cults” increased following various tragedies, notably that of Jonestown (in Guyana) where 918 people died in 1978.
Founding of theCult Information Center, an association of volunteers aimed at raising awareness of cultic phenomena.
Under the initiative of the Montreal section of the Hillel association (a Jewish student organization that is active on several university and college campuses), conferences are organized in order to sensitize students and the population to cultic phenomena. Interest generated by these conferences, combined with the expressed needs of the community, led a small group of people (notably Mike Kropveld, Leonard Lazarus and Patrick Quincy) to consider setting up a permanent resource center on cults. Recognizing the relevance of such a project, leaders of the Hillel organization applied for a grant from the Jewish community of Montreal in order to develop this resource center more concretely.
Under the auspices of the B’nai Brith Hillel Foundation of Montreal (a student association), the Cult Project was born. Subsidized by the Jewish Community Services of Montreal as well as by private donations, this non-profit education and resource center on cults offers a public and non-denominational service to the entire population.
Its objectives are to:
Develop a bilingual information and documentation center on cultic groups and phenomena that is open to the public;
Support families, relatives and former members of groups;
Offer information and awareness sessions on cultic phenomena in Montreal and surrounding area.
During its first ten years of existence, three people have been employed by the Cult Project (two with the help of government grants) and are responsible for a number of research projects. Variousprevention and awareness programsabout cults and “mental manipulation” techniques are presented in high schools, CEGEPs, universities, community centers and professional associations in Montreal and its surroundings.
In collaboration with the Cult Project, a ten-part course entitled Coping with Cults is offered to high schools. Produced by the Jewish Education Council of Montreal and developed by Sylvia Stipelman, the program won theWilliam Haber Prize.
The Cult Project publishes areporton cultism in France which is subsidized in part by the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse.
To commemorate the victims of the Johnstown tragedy, the Cult Project undertakes anawareness campaignin Montreal, from November 14 to 18.
Now located in new offices (on Park Avenue, Montreal),The Cult Project becomes Info-Cult, an independent, bilingual and non-denominational organization which is governed by a board of directors composed of legal, education, mental health, counseling and business professionals.
The mission of Info-Cult is also updated to reflect its growth over the last 10 years:
"In order to promote the dignity and integrity of the person, with respect for individual and collective rights, freedom of thought and expression, and the right to information, Info-Cult’s objects are the following:
Promote the study of cultic phenomena;
Raise awareness, inform and educate the population about these phenomena;
Assist people experiencing difficulties related to these phenomena”.
A media campaign is organized to sensitize the Quebec population on cultic phenomenon. In collaboration with Info-Cult, an information brochure entitledAre you vulnerable?is published and distributed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Following a number of testimonies, Info-Cult makes public the case of theMédecins du Ciel, channeler healers. Certain steps taken by Info-Cult contribute to the filing of a complaint to the College of Physicians of Quebec for the illegal practice of medicine leading to healers being fined.
Release of the documentary,Au-delà des mirageswhich will be followed in 1994 by the release of the English version,Beyond the Mirage. Directed by Jorge Martinez and produced by Info-Cult, this documentary aims to make young people more aware of cultic phenomena. It is used in Canada and the United States for educational purposes.
Info-Cult submits areport as part of a Parliamentary Commission of the Quebec government on alternative therapies.
The staff of Info-Cult reflects on the concept of “cultic thinking”. This terminology is now used by Info-Cult to take into account individual behavior and group dynamics, but is not used as criteria for distinguishing groups that may represent a potential risk to its members.
Info-Cult enters cyberspace and launches the first version of its bilingual website, which becomes a source of references on cultic phenomena and how groups function.
Info-Cult celebrates its 25th anniversary of service to the community and produces, for the occasion, acommemorative booklet including tributes.
With the help of Canadian Heritage, Info-Cult publishesThe Cult Phenomenon: How Groups Function(by Mike Kropveld and Marie-Andrée Pelland) an update of the French version of the book published in 2003 by the same authors.
"In recognition of his leadership in the effort to preserve and protect individual liberties", Info-Cult's Executive Director, Mike Kropveld, is the recipient of theHerbert L. Rosedale Awardfrom the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA).
In response to the needs expressed by former members, Info-Cult starts asupport groupin French which is facilitated by professionals offering their services on a voluntary basis.
A complementary name is added: Center for Assistance and for the Study of Cultic Phenomena.
Info-Cult celebrates its 40th anniversary and organizes an international congress in collaboration withICSA(International Cultic Studies Association) to be held in Montreal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was presentedonline the following year.
A second support groupin Englishfor former members is started.