“My proudest accomplishment is my self-growth. It is my ability to see good in people, to forgive and to move on. It is my ability to help without expecting anything in return. My patience, my trust, my love, my empathy, my loyalty and my “authenticité”. Everything else can be taken away from me but not all of this.”
Hélène is a 30-year-old college student with a goal of going to medical school. She was born and raised in a small village in the province of Quebec and identifies with being “Quebecoise first and a Canadian second.” Hélène’s favourite place to be is “where I am at that moment. I try to stay positive and just be present about anything I do. If I’m at work, I give my all even if it’s a “meaningless college student job” for example. The right time to feel and learn is always. I realize that being Canadian offers me the immense privilege of so much opportunities so in the end, where I am, is mostly a result of my choices.” Hélène would like to be received as the “complex human being that I am. Not just either the strong or the weak. I would love for everyone to stop reducing people to their perceptions of them.” When I asked Hélène what she believes is unique for the Muslim community in Quebec she told me, “I think the Muslim experience in Quebec is different from many other Canadian cities mainly because of the history between the Catholic Church and the French-Canadians. As mentioned previously, being part of a religion is correlated with being stupid or with having been manipulated. I think Roch Thériault’s cult also greatly wounded the population. All the media propaganda only exacerbates the problem and I feel like little is done in Quebec (by the municipality for instance) to promote multiculturalism.”
What is your favourite quality about yourself?
“I think that my favourite quality about myself is that fact that I am “candide.”
What is a fun fact about you that you haven’t told me yet?
“I despise snakes and I adore cats. ALWAYS vanilla over chocolate. I am always cold and it’s NEVER too hot in the summer here. I wish I learned how to play piano when I was younger. I wish I could type without looking at the keyboard. If it’s not fried, it’s not food. I hate shopping and going for groceries. I love traveling by bike; the level of the feeling of freedom is over the top.”