When I went to the Maison culturelle et communautaire in Montreal North for the opening of the artist Rose-Élise Cialdella’s exhibition, there was a young man with a fine presence that served drinks at the entrance to the exhibition hall. He told me with amusement that people sometimes found him a resemblance to PK Subban, especially when he leaves his beard grow a little!
Ralph Gregory Is called by one or another of his names. I imagine that his intimate friends know which he prefers. Let's call him Gregory for short, at the risk of being mistaken.
After holding a summer job in day camps, Gregory realized he could apply for the jobs offered by the city of Montreal. As a student, he holds a part-time job on call with right of refusal, which allows him to work without putting at risk his studies. His assignments are varied: from welcome agent at the Cultural Centre to surveillance of sports activities.
Born in Haiti, he first lived Ahuntsic after his arrival. He completed his primary school there before his family moved to Montreal North. His father originally came here alone, followed by his mother and then by the four children. Gregory is the third in the family. He completed a Cegep diploma in accounting and management and is preparing to undertake a Bachelor of Management program this fall.
A sportsman by nature, he loves basketball and soccer. He also goes to the gym, primarily for weightlifting. Musically, he prefers soft-rock and techno music. One of his favorite stars is David Guetta. Out of curiosity, I asked him who would be his Haitian idol. I expected to hear the name of a singer or athlete, but after a moment's reflection, he said, "Dany" in reference to the writer Dany Laferrière. This name might well have been the answer of a person born in Montreal asked to name a preferred Quebec personality!
I also asked him if after living more than half his life in Montreal, he felt more a Quebecer than a Haitian. He said he was not yet at that point. He did note however, during his last visit to his native country, that people did not all understand him as easily, although he still speaks Creole at home.
Identity issues are sometimes more complicated than one would think!