My name is Rachel Louise Barry. I am a Montrealer of Irish descent, born in a city often described as a multicultural and multilingual metropolitan.
The City of Montreal is the second most populous city in Canada - after the City of Toronto, the largest city in Canada - and one of North America's most cosmopolitan cities. Cosmopolitan as in Montrealers from many different countries and metropolitan as in a core city with nearby communities such as the 15 other cities located on the Island of Montreal.
A City with a distinct culture based on our two official French and English languages and a City of Montreal divided into "two solitudes" according to some. Two words inspired by Hugh MacLennan in his novel entitled "Two Solitudes" and perceived as a lack of communication between Francophones and Anglophones.
A strong francophone majority that gives Montreal its distinctive cultural character and a strong anglophone minority with its cultural differences and traditions. According to some, the Francophones like to live and, according to others, the Anglophones like to work. Personally, I definitely appreciate having learned both languages and enjoy being able to profit from both cultures.
Rachel Louise Barry, Barry is Irish and the Catholic religion is one of the main reasons why French Canadian women such as my grand-mother and Irish men such as my grand-father got married and had children. Michael Barry from County Cork, Ireland was first and, thanks to him, we are still fluently bilingual. John Barry was second and Jacques Barry, my father, was third.
A father who was a great fan of ice hockey, Canada's national winter sport and who played with our famous Maurice "Rocket" Richard when they were young. A mother who loved sewing and who was an artist in her very own way. A mother and a father who grew up during the Great Depression and who got married right after World War II.
I still have very pleasant memories from my first school years at l'École des Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens in Ahuntsic-Cartierville and from the Gabriel-Lalemant park nearby where all the local kids gathered and played. A "Baby Boomer Generation"born after the World War II and, up until recently, the largest generational group in North America. Let's just say, I had lots of friends and I loved it.
The school and the park are still located near Parthenais and Sauvé and still have a good reputation. So does what is now called the Collège Esther-Blondin where my father sent me when I was 13. A beautiful boarding school then run by the Soeurs de Sainte-Anne, a religious community founded by Esther-Blondin but, I felt lonely, I missed my friends and I missed the games we played and the fun we had.
A few years later I chose "Histoire de l'art / Art plastique" at the Cegep du Vieux-Montreal, pavilion Athanase-David. However, I didn't complete all the necessary courses and didn't obtain a D.E.C., a Diplôme d'études collégiales. Instead I became adventurous and traveled during a few years. I lived in Spain, England and France, visited Europe and traveled through several American states.
In my mid-thirties, I became part owner of a ladies wear boutique in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts "up north" in the Laurentians. Our boutique was called "Les Mignonnettes" because our father called our mother "mignonne" and my sister and I were his "mignonnettes".
I had and still have a strong interest for the artistic talents of our fashion designers and I loved the experience. The fashion industry is fascinating for many interesting reasons including the fact that Montreal was and still is a strong player in the fashion industry
The adventure lasted eight years and gave me the opportunity to profit from the local lifestyles and surroundings. An wonderful experience that enabled me to extend my knowledge in retail sales, local store marketing, local designers, buying methods, selling techniques, customer care and bookkeeping.
I came back to Montreal and eventually joined a Service d'aide à l'exportation (SAE) as commissioner where I contributed to the development of the East part of Montreal.
At the SAE I developed services adapted to the requirements of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) wishing to sell their products and services to foreign countries, mostly to United States, our closest neighbor. Enriched by the experience, I subsequently worked another eight years as a private consultant in the development of the US market by various Montreal SMEs.
Proper education is important and I eventually went back to school and studied Business Management at HEC Montréal in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. This time I did complete all the necessary courses and obtained a Baccalauréat en gestion (B. Gest.).
Because of my interest for the City of Montreal, I also obtained a Maîtrise en analyse publique (M.A.P.) from ENAP Montréal located in the Plateau-Mont-Royal. My master's essay - for which I received an A, I'm very proud to say - was dedicated to Montreal Twin Cities.
It is at l'ENAP - l'École nationale d'administration publique that, as a Montrealer, I became truly interested in municipal administration. A master degree is about analysis, which I loved and I would have loved the research of a PhD but instead I created Montreal Kits.
The Saint-Lawrence Iroquoians and their 12 major language groups were first, followed by the French, the English, the Scottish and the Irish.
Today, most Chinese, American, Moroccan, Filipino and Roman immigrants live in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Algerians and Italians selected Saint-Léonard. The French picked the Plateau Mont-Royal, the Haitians chose Montréal-Nord and the Vietnamese preferred the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough.
Montreal is now a City with no less than 25 ethnic groups that each offer all the collective challenges and benefits of an intercultural society. The Island of Montreal is definitely multicultural and multilingual, but we still have to decide what our cultural diversity and social cohesion really are.
We all have a lot to say and a lot to share about Montreal and Montrealers and each and everyone of you are very welcome to join me, Rachel Louise Barry in this Montreal Kits endeavor and to participate via our Keep in Touch! and/or Your Amazing Story forms.