Ericka had read about QuartiersNord on my son Mikaël’s Facebook page. She had met him at the XX-MTL conference on the situation and the representation of women in the media. When she arrived at the place of our appointment, the 132 Vintage Bar on Fleury Street West, she recognized me. We had spent an evening almost side by side, without actually introducing us to each other, at a Wyclef Jean show this summer. Arrived early to get good seats we had exchanged a few words and I had noticed a group of socially engaged people had gradually formed around this very sociable lady.
Ericka was born in the Eastern Townships and raised in Sherbrooke. Her parents were from Haiti and settled in the region at the suggestion of Quebecers they had met in their native country. She said growing up in that environment was excellent for her. However, her parents initially saw worried looks on the faces of their neighbors. They had never lived close to members of the black community before they moved there. Over time, high affinities with some of these neighbors have developed. Her father, a trained chef, has contributed much by getting involved in neighborhood events and school boards. The locals still remember the year he replaced the usual hot dogs of the St-Jean-Baptiste picnic by lasagna for everyone!
Ericka lived a childhood where happiness and adversity were tangled. Disease took away her mother when she was only 10 years old. She then had to be more than a big sister to her younger brother. Her father, who has admirably raised the two young ones and watched over their education, was also struck by disease when she was at the turn of her twenties.
She then left for Montreal where she shared a flat with four girls in the Plateau and began studies in Political Science at Concordia University. She worked several years at Jacob and then at the Women’s Y and contributed to the organization Mon projet d’affaire, a training and coaching center in entrepreneurship for women. She voluntarily assumed for a few years the co-presidency of Génération d’idées, a group that encourages the emergence of new perspectives on social issues and the expression of the diversity of ideas in order to give a voice to the next generation. She also helped out an organism assisting people living with HIV-AIDS. Volunteering is for her a fundamental part of life.
Like others before, she believed there was not much sign of life north of Highway 40 when she was hired at the Centre Jeunesse Emploi Ahuntsic Bordeaux Cartierville. She has since changed her mind. The 132 Bar Vintage was one of the crunches of this lady who loves bars and restaurants. She has fond memories of her father working in this type of environment.
As she prefers action to theory, she is currently a part-time student in Philanthropic Management. She loves to contribute to the success of others and spoke fondly of two young students of Ste-Marceline College and their project Mardi sans maquillage, a movement to promote self-esteem, confidence and pride. These are values hat correspond to Ericka’s!