In early December, I attended the public launch of the Société d’Histoire d’Ahuntsic-Cartierville (SHAC), an activity that ended with a tour of the Chabanel industrial sector. It was after this event that I contacted Ahmed, one of the administrators of this recently constituted nonprofit historical society. I visited him later at his home in Cartierville. He offered me tea and we chatted.
Ahmed is originally from Agadir, Morocco. This region of Arab-Berber culture has long been an agricultural center and a fishing port. However, it tends to become a major tourist destination. His family lived from commerce.
He began, in French, studies in Economics in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, were his family moved in the ‘70s. From there, he completed the procedures to immigrate to Canada. Ahmed arrived in Montreal in February 2002, unmarried, with a landed immigrant status, and then completed a BA in Accounting Sciences at UQAM.
During his studies, he took part in volunteer activities within the university. He participated in the organization of an intercultural week with the Student Services Department, the Centre d’écoute et de référence and UQAM campus student associations. He also contributed some of his time as public relations manager for the Club d’Entrepreneurs étudiants (EEC-UQAM) between 2004 and 2005. He took a liking to volunteering, a concept that was not sufficiently developed and structured in Morocco in his youth, he said. His years of studies also allowed him to develop a network of friends.
Although he enjoyed life in Montreal, he then returned to Morocco for a few years. He worked in the family business in Rabat, a general hardware store. During his stay of a few years, he married Aïcha, an acquaintance of his childhood. Their first two children, a girl and a boy, were born during that period
As he had kept a taste for the life here, he came back to Montreal in 2011 and undertook the necessary procedures so that Aïcha and the kids could join him the following year. If his children, through his paternity, are automatically Canadian citizens, it will take another two years before Aïcha gets her residency. As the couple now have a second son, Aïcha slowly continues her French courses, while caring for the three young children.
The eldest, now in first grade, ended her first semester as head of her class. Ahmed is proud of his daughter's school debut and already imagines her pursuing her studies in a high school with an international program in the north of the city or in Plateau Mont-Royal. For their part, the two sons are beginning their first steps in a day care center close to their home.
While talking with him about his career, I learned that he had first been employed as a treasury technician for a year and a half until the company made significant layoffs. I then realized that I had probably already met him with his current employer. He works periodically for the accounting firm I have entrusted with my tax returns for the past few years. It is Benoit, his employer that he considers a great boss, who referred him to Cité Historia, where he worked during the summer.
In his spare time, Ahmed practices Taekwondo at the Centre Communautaire Laurentien. He was recently awarded his black belt, which will allow him to teach this martial art to children under the supervision of two Canadian masters of Moroccan origin. Laout Ahmed, 7th Dan Black Belt in Taekwondo and university-trained in conflict resolution and nonviolent communication, and Mohamed Loutfi, black belt 6th Dan in Taekwondo, sociologist and psychosocial worker. These masters teach in this center attended by the Cartierville and St. Laurent Muslim communities, but also to a very different clientele at the Association sportive et communautaire du Centre-Sud. He appreciates their teaching methods which combine the practice of this martial art with animation, entertainment and self-control periods. He said he draws lessons for his activities with his own children. Recently, his daughter also started Taekwondo courses with kids her age.
If he follows with interest the developments in the situation of Cité Historia, a museum currently under restructuration by its management, Ahmed is still looking for a job offering better security. He is also considering undertaking graduate-level studies to obtain his Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) title.
Talking about immigration to Canada, Ahmed said that "it's personal for each immigrant". Faced with a pitfall, some turn back, while others learn from the experience to persevere in their chosen path.