My name is Rachel Louise Barry. I am a Montrealer of Irish descent, born in Montreal, a city now known as a multicultural and multilingual metropolitan city.
A City with a distinct culture based on both our French and English languages sometimes referred to as "two solitudes". A term used by Hugh MacLennan in his novel Two Solitudes and often "perceived" as a lack of communication between Francophones and Anglophones.
A strong francophone population that gives Montreal its distinctive cultural character, and an anglophone minority that offers its particular cultural differences and traditions. According to some, the francophones like to live, the anglophones like to work and I definitely appreciate having learned from both cultures.
Montreal is also a City with no less than 25 ethnic groups that offer all the collective challenges and benefits of an intercultural society. Nowadays, the Island of Montreal is definitely multicultural and multilingual, but we haven't been able to decide yet how our cultural diversity and social cohesion really is.
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 and to his sons and daughters, 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 official winter sport, and who played with Maurice Richard when they were both young.
The Rachel of the Rachel Louise Barry comes from my grand-mother on my mother's side. Louise, my mother told me, was a princess and my grand-father, whom I called grand-papa Ti-Oui was a Louis.
It's only recently that I checked who this princess was. She could have been the artistic Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's sixth child who died on December 3, the same day I was born. She certainly was a much loved princess since, in one particular primary school year, we were seven Louise in the same class.
I still have very pleasant memories from my first school years at l'École des Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens in Ahuntsic-Cartierville as well as from the Gabriel-Lalemant park nearby where all the local kids gathered and played.
The school and the park are still located near Parthenais and Sauvé and still have good reputations. So does the Collège Esther-Blondin where my father sent me.
A few years later I chose History of Art and Arts plastiques at le Cegep du Vieux-Montreal, pavilion Athanase-David, but didn't complete all the necessary courses however and didn't obtain a D.E.C., a Diplôme d'études collégiales.
Instead I became adventurous and travelled during a few years. I lived in Spain, England and France, visited Europe and travelled through several American states.
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 on 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 from all over the world.
Nowadays, if I could start all over again, I'd study Economy and Political Science even if it's at l'ENAP - l'École nationale d'administration publique that I became interested in municipal politics and administration.
In my mid-thirties, I became part owner of a ladies wear boutique in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts in the Laurentians. It was called "Les Mignonnettes" because our father called our mother "mignonne" and my sister and I were his "mignonnettes".
I loved the experience. The fashion industry is fascinating for many reasons including our strong interest for the artistic talents of our fashion designers. The adventure lasted eight years and gave me the opportunity to profit from the local life style and surroundings.
It also 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 neighbours.
Nowadays, Quebec's most significant export destinations are United States, followed by Europe and then Asia, services first and then products.
Enriched by the experience, I subsequently worked another eight years as a private consultant in the development of foreign markets for various SMEs located in Montreal.
Nowadays, and I find this interesting, our exports of services are more significant, our exports of goods generate more added value and our imports are more significant in the goods sectors when compared to the services sectors.
In Ojibwe an Algonquian language, the island of Montreal is the "first meeting place" and in Mohawk, an Iroquoian language, our Island is "a place where nations and rivers unite and divide". Then the French, the English, the Scottish and the Irish arrived, not necessarily in that order.
Nowadays, 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, Haitians chose Montréal-Nord and the Vietnamese preferred the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough.
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 in and share.