If you too miss meeting humans in their various forms, I encourage you to read my experience with Quartier des générations.
First, I would like to introduce myself.
My name is Raphaël, I’m 20 years old and I live in Lévis. I’m currently doing a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education—French as a First Language. When I graduated from CEGEP and finished the Natural Science program in May 2019, I decided to take a gap year to do various volunteer projects. Today, I want to share with you the experience I had for two wonderful weeks in Montréal at Quartier des générations.
Although I knew Montréal a little, I had never set foot in the Ahuntsic district, where most of the volunteer project took place. Our group was very diverse. Several Canadian provinces were represented, namely Quebec, New Brunswick and Alberta. Also, a participant from Estonia and another from Russia completed our heterogeneous team perfectly. On the first Sunday, we were greeted by the Quartier des générations’ residents. These retired and independent people have chosen to live in a place where values such as mutual help, sharing and openness to others reign. This first meeting was more than successful and set the tone for the next two weeks.
Sharing moments from our respective lives allowed me to grow and understand everyone’s realities.
We then had activities after activities. Literary creation, community cooking, discussions, musical lessons, various presentations about us and outdoor walks are just a few examples among many others. These activities were highly interesting, but what I remember the most from this journey was the time spent talking with the Quartier des générations’ residents. Sharing moments from our respective lives allowed me to grow and understand everyone’s realities.
Not far from there was the Résidence Berthiaume-Du Tremblay. Our team has done a lot of volunteering in this place, where it accommodates elderly people with a loss of autonomy. My visit there allowed me to look reality in the face. I lost my grandparents several years ago and it had been a while since I had set foot in a retirement home. I saw people alone within their own four walls who were happy to have our company, even if it was only for half a day. I realized how sad it was to see loneliness wandering the halls when it dedicated its life to building the society I live in today.
Our team leader, Anne, made us participate in several different activities so that we could discover (or rediscover) Montréal from a new perspective. Whether it was going for a walk on Mount Royal, listening to a concert at Saint Joseph’s Oratory or even having fun during Montréal en lumière, these moments allowed us to strengthen our bonds as a team.
This is exactly what I wish for each and every one of you: “journeys,” like the one I experienced thanks to Chantiers jeunesse, which will make you learn.
Today, I’m very grateful for the experience Chantiers jeunesse has given me. Especially since these two weeks were followed by the government’s lockdown announcement to protect everyone from COVID-19. When I think back to life before the pandemic, my most recent memory is this intergenerational volunteer project that made me grow.
And to help me remember it, I received a photo of the Des Prairies River from a resident of the Quartier. It was a magnificent sunset in which the pink blended with the blue of the sky and that of the water, a harmonic mixture that could be compared to the colourful encounters of the previous two weeks. Behind the photo, Béatrice wrote, “Good journeys in your life.” This is exactly what I wish for each and every one of you: “journeys,” like the one I experienced thanks to Chantiers jeunesse, which will make you learn. We should remember that wonders can be hidden in moments as simple as a discussion with a person older than yourself!
Raphaël Boilard – CJ Ambassador