Félix M.

I met Félix in the Gouin Park, the green space along the river behind the Sophie-Barat School, where he had just completed high school. He worked there for the summer at the site of the Association Récréoculturelle Ahuntsic Cartierville (ARAC). I talked to him while he was busy servicing rental kayaks. He is an active young man who loves outdoor sports like rafting and canoeing, as well as winter camping that he has practiced in the Lac St-Jean region. I spontaneously thought that his family had a cottage near a lake where he would have developed this passion, but this was not the case.

He also plays tennis in his spare time in the neighborhood. This is how I found out that we have a common acquaintance, another Félix who teaches the sport in Nicolas-Viel Park.

When I will publish this photo taken in July, Félix will have begun his studies in Gaspé at theCEGEP de Gaspésie et des Îles in the Adventure Tourism program to become an outdoor activity guide. Amazing for a young man who was born and lived until this day in the city in the district of the Sault-au-Récollet! This choice stems in part from the fact that Felix had chosen the outdoor’s option for his physical education classes, where, as you may guess, most activities take place outdoors. Seeing his natural interest in these activities, the physical education teacher told him about the program for which he clearly seems to have the right profile. Although he does not know what job awaits him when he graduates, he boldly told me he is sure he made the right choice.

To think of it, what would be more natural than a lifelong island resident to introduce neophytes to aquatic activities? After all, Montreal is an Island in a major river that eventually flows into the sea.

Félix on ARAC's summer kayak rental site, along the river behind the Sophie-Barat school

Ralph Gregory S.

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!

Ralph Gregory in Montréal-Nord's Maison culturelle et communautaire