When I wrote my speech for the elections of the Executive Board in 2006, it was too long and I had to cut out a certain anecdote. Today I’m going to start with that story:
When I was in the 10th Grade, I participated in a student exchange. At the end of the trip, a girl from our group gave me a card which read:
“IF YOU WANT PEACE, WORK FOR JUSTICE.”
She had understood me perfectly well, as I was and still am a fierce advocate for peace.
I already knew that I was heading into computer sciences. At the time, I didn’t really see the connection with justice. It stayed like that until I entered the workplace, and it was then that this phrase really hit home for me, but the other way around, as I encountered injustices very early on.
Surely, I must have had fire in my eyes at the time because there was an “old-timer” who noticed me in an assembly and gave me a little nudge. The following year, I was a unit steward, and I wasn’t even 24 years old yet! Thank you Marcel Landry.
When it was time to establish the union in 1985, another “old-timer” gave me a little push to encourage me to run for union president at age 29. Thank you Mario Gauvreau.
Twenty-one years later in 2006, more “old-timers” gave me yet another little nudge to run for a position on the Federation’s Executive Board. By that time, I’ve got to admit that I was starting to get up there myself! Thank you Serge Vallières, Pierre Jobin, and Johanne Pomerleau.
The first thing that is disconcerting when you arrive at the FPPE is the idea of becoming a boss, which is a real wake up call for a union militant! What I enjoyed most in this role was conducting staff selection interviews. I was always looking for two elements: how this person would fit into the group and whether there was a spark in the individual’s eyes that showed that they were passionate about their work. It’s no wonder that of the 13 individuals I hired, 12 were women!
I’ve worked on many exciting projects over the past 10 years: action-mobilization (with Hélène D’Aoust, the late Caroll Richard, Roger Tremblay, Louise Blanchet, Marc Dion), financial affairs (with André Cauchy, the late Daniel Valiquette, Jocelyne Dupras, Ginette Gagné, Marie-Sylvie Lafrance, Gaétan Côté), Labour System Implementation Committee (with all the union counsellors), union training (with Claudie Lévesque, Michel Hébert, Julie Labonté, Josianne Lavoie, Valérie Dubé, and Lucie Lépine), the Federation Articles of Association— yes, you heard me, the Articles of Association— (with Jean-Marie Comeau, Johanne Pomerleau, Steeve Loisel, and Sylvie Pante), organization of proceedings (with Marie Fahmi and Nancie Lessard), the Convention Organizing Committee (with Louise Blanchet, Roger Tremblay, the late Caroll Richard, Marie-Noëlle Robidas, Michel Mayrand, Marie Fahmi, Josée Dargis, Gaétan Côté, Patrick Jeannotte, Nancie Lessard, Judith Perron, Lise Therrien, Dominic Di Stefano, Karine Lapierre, and Félix Cauchy-Charest) and the Executive Board (with Diane Benoit, Jean Falardeau, Johanne Pomerleau, Sophie Massé, and my scapegoat, Jean-Marie Comeau!). Above all, I truly enjoyed working with all of these individuals.
A brief message to all those who are still young: To take your place within this Federation, the only thing you need is that fire in your eyes. Don’t worry, the “old-timers” will notice it and will be quite happy to give you a little nudge in order to pass the torch on, as you represent the Federation’s future.
A final word for the very first female president of the Federation, my colleague and friend Johanne — it’s a little tune in fact. I searched long for one that would be appropriate. I considered “Train de vie” by the Cowboys Fringants, or “Reviens-moi” by Sylvain Cossette. In the end, I chose this one by Robert Charlebois:
Demain l’hiver, je m’en fous.
Je m’en vais dans le sud, au soleil
Me baigner dans la mer
Et je penserai à vous
En plantant mes orteils dans le sable doux.
It was a pleasure and honour to serve you.