My name is Rachel Louise Barry. I am a Montrealer of Irish descent, born in Montreal, a city now described as a multicultural and multilingual metropolitan.
A City with a distinct culture based on both our French and our English languages sometimes called "two solitudes". Two words inspired by Hugh MacLennan in his novel "Two Solitudes" and perceived as a lack of communication between Francophones and Anglophones.
A strong francophone population 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, according to others, the anglophones like to work. Personally, I definitely appreciate having learned from both cultures.
Rachel Louise 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 both 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 the 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.
The school and the park are still located near Parthenais and Sauvé and still have good reputations. 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 missed my friends, 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. I didn't complete all the necessary courses though 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.
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 loved the experience. The fashion industry is fascinating for many reasons including a strong interest for the artistic talents of our fashion designers and fashion industry. The adventure lasted eight years and gave me the opportunity to profit from the local lifestyle and surroundings.
An experience that 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.
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 have not decided yet what our cultural diversity and social cohesion really is.
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 us in our endeavor.