Fer et Titane (French for Iron and Titanium) is the title of a song by Gilles Vigneault*, who has also written many more songs then the well known refrain of Gens du pays. It is also the original name of a major industrial polluter that operates a vast metallurgical complex in Sorel, one of the «Heavy Metal» cities in Quebec.
Élyse is a native of that city. What she actually knows is that she was born in the Notre-Dame de Sorel hospital, but was adopted by a Verdun family when she was only a few days’ old. This is quite paradoxical for a lady who is now executive director of Ville en vert, an organization in Ahuntsic-Cartierville, which realizes projects in urban agriculture and biodiversity, healthy eating, sustainable mobility and waste management!
People I've introduced to you so far were generally unknown to me before I met them over the course of the summer, but Élyse’s case is a little different. We first met last year in the backyard of mutual friends who held a big summer BBQ meant to become an annual ritual. As we live in the same neighborhood, I also see her sometimes in the morning with her children on their way to school on foot or by bike. She attaches, by the way, great importance to their education.
It was during the inauguration of the Environmental Showcase in Cartierville, on 28 September, that we reconnected. The group photo with her Ville en vert colleagues was taken on this occasion.
Élyse lived in different Montreal neighborhoods before settling in Ahuntsic. She and her family even stayed a few years in Laval. Even though they lived near an orange line metro station, these Montrealers at heart felt somewhat out of place.
Because her father died when she was young, her mother’s resources were modest. Élyse thus managed to pursue her studies by working twenty hours a week. She has worked at the well-known Ice cream shop in Outremont, Le Bilboquet, while studying in college and at the beginning of her university studies at UQAM in Business Administration (marketing). Like many people today, she held several jobs before reaching her early thirties. While completing an MBA in Strategic Planning and Management at UQAM, she worked as a junior analyst in financial companies, as lecture and as assistant coordinator for operations and marketing in technology firms. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, she also worked as consultant to retailers.
It was while she was studying for her Masters in Environment at Sherbrooke University that she started working in this sector in our borough. From a small Éco-quartier office in Cartierville and an initial budget hardly sufficient for a salary and a half, she has gradually assembled an organization that now employs fifteen permanent employees and a dozen other people on temporary basis. Showing strong will and initiative, this small team of highly educated young people oversees many projects with an environmental and social impact. Passionate about their projects, these people are, however, working in precarious conditions depending on the financing they obtain. Their efforts to ensure the stability of this non-profit organization are always to start over. When I see their status and that of people working in the community organizations, I cannot help but think that there is something wrong in our collective priorities!
You can get an idea of heir qualifications and of the diversity of their projects by visiting the Ville en vert website whose link appears at the end of the article. You can also purchase eco-friendly products at one of their two eco-boutiques either at 10416 Lajeunesse Street or at 5765 West, Gouin Boulevard.
Concurrently, Élyse continues to be interested in other health issues related to the environment. She participated in the "Sabotage hormonal project" of the Réseau des femmes en environnement and continues to raise awareness about the different impacts of endocrine disrupters on human health and reproduction. She also said that with everything she has seen and learned in environment, she would give much more room to science in her studies should she be a teenager today.
A citizen involved in her community, Élyse has also been vice-president and treasurer of the Regional Council of Montreal environment. After our meeting in the Ville en vert offices, she was getting ready to attend a meeting of the Board of the Collège Ahuntsic, where she serves as administrator.