On the occasion of the Québec Day, which takes place this Friday June 23rd in Shanghai (June 24th in Beijing), our second guest is the 35-year-old Québécois Mathieu Cormier, who has been in Shanghai for five years and currently vice-president of A Quebec service company
In China, they call me Gao Ming, but in my hometown of Havre-Saint-Pierre, located on the North Shore of Quebec, they recognize me as Denise at Ti-D’œuf, At Bagueur, at Michoune, at Nazaire “. There are so many Mathieu Cormier in my village that his ancestors are called to identify. The reason is simple, I am of Acadian origin.
My ancestors left the region of Poitoux in France in 1647 to settle in New France (in Canada), in a region that is now called Nova Scotia. In 1755, the British invaded this region and deported all the French populations out of the territory, the Acadians. Some left for Louisiana in the United States. My ancestors, they chose the Islands Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, French overseas territory located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They then left for Quebec, in the Magdalen Islands, finally settling in my hometown in 1867, located on the golden beaches of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and at the gateway to the wonders of the National Park of Quebec. The archipelago of Mingan, Havre-Saint-Pierre.
Formerly called Pointe-aux-Eskimos, Havre-Saint-Pierre was named in honor of the patron saint of fishermen, Saint Pierre, which was a good fit to define the name of my little village of sailors who lived in the seasons of cod.
The letter ‘R’
For over 250 years now, my ancestors have adopted a “political” language. As a popular protest against the “R” oi and the “R” eine of France who had disdained to help its subjects during the Great Deportation of Francophones in 1755, the Acadians refused to pronounce in their vocabulary the letter ‘ R ‘. Thus the word mercy is pronounced “mecsi.” However, they have preserved their French language, history, culture and people. Even today, this mystical accent is in my little Acadian fishing village, located 1500 km northeast of Montreal, and I’m proud of it!
My openness to the world and my meeting with China
I left my village of 3500 inhabitants to open to the world to 16 years. I left for the big city to discover the world, I now live in Shanghai for 5 years with my 6 year old son. A whole contrast with my origins!
It was in 2002, during a 3 month stay in Indonesia that I discovered Asia. My stolen flight was passing through Hong Kong, which had just been handed over to China. It also coincided with the entry of the World Trade Organization (WTO) of China in 2001. I was amazed by the Chinese culture, its people, its cuisine, its history and its taste for development. Following this stay, I reoriented my studies towards China and the international.
From Tianjin, at the Quebec Office in Shanghai
I made my first real trip to China in 2007 for a study session at Nankai University in Tianjin to learn the basics of this complex Mandarin language. It was at this point that I discovered that I was never really going to become a master of the Chinese language, because of its complexity. That did not stop me from falling in love with China and meeting Julie, who was going to become the mother of our son, a son of Nankai as I am amused to call him, Antoine.
Following my international studies at Université Laval and a Master’s degree at the National School of Public Administration in Quebec, I obtained my first job at the Government of Quebec, at the Ministry of Economy and Export Trade . I was assigned to work on an official mission in China of the then Prime Minister of Quebec, Mr. Jean Charest. I quickly had the sting for the international relations and economic affairs that govern our world so interconnected. That is why in 2012 when a position of Director of Economic Services at the Quebec Office in Shanghai opened, I quickly expressed my interest. I held this position for four years as vice-consul at the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai.
Arrival with my partner, our little boy of 18 months and our cat, we adopted this city filled with little secrets and great discoveries. We fell in love with its ease of living and its unique people. After understanding the system of Ayi, Didi dache, Kuiadi, the online business and the cogs of the frantic traffic of its streets, we quickly adapted our habits to this new life of expats Quebecois in China.
China, Quebec and Francophonie
I also contributed, in my own way, to spreading the virtues of the Francophonie in Shanghai. With a small group of Quebecers, we have set up a grouping, Québécois.Shanghai, with the mandate to gather, share and inform our community living in Shanghai. The group wants to be inclusive and apolitical, which makes it a great platform for discovering extraordinary people who all have in common Quebec and this energy city that is Shanghai. We welcome all Quebecers, whether Chinese or French, whether they are watching an ice hockey game or celebrating Quebec National Day, while eating a poutine, and discovering our culture and Our joie de vivre.
After contributing to the increase in economic exchanges and friendship relations between Québec and Shanghai for four years at the Quebec Office, I wanted to push the Chinese adventure even further. At the end of my diplomatic assignment, I decided to opt for a year of unpaid leave to stay in this country and to improve my knowledge and skills in the business world in China. I am currently a Vice-President of a Quebec-based services company called Saimen. We act as a bridge between Quebec and China in the areas of education, entertainment, technology and investment.
Alongside Mathieu Cormier from left to right, Michel Lafleur, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Quebec Department of International Relations and Francophonie, and Jean-François Lépine, Director of Quebec Representations in China.
The Chinese are currently fond of entertainment knowing how to amaze them, make them live strong emotions and discover the world. One of our partners in China, Samajam, is the perfect reflection of this new China. Samajam, a Quebec company, produces 200% participative musical performances for children. Children are led to literally perform the show with various percussion and music instruments. Chinese children and parents love these family sessions where you can enjoy fun, learning and discovering the world. With already more than 600 shows scheduled for 2017-2018!
The same goes for the Quebec summer camps that we promote in China, the Edphy camps. With more than 50 years of history and the annual visit of more than 15,000 foreign children, the language and sports camp in Quebec is a great success for young Chinese. Many Chinese families are looking for nature and want to allow their children to discover the canoe, climb a tree or get lost in the forest. The joys of nature and the magnificent scenery of Quebec have never been easier to reach with the new daily direct flight between Shanghai and Montreal.
Quebec is a welcoming and welcoming land. A province rich in its territory and its natural resources, but still more cherished by its inhabitants, from all origins, infinite source of creativity and joie de vivre. Quebec is much more than an accent and a few snow harpers. It is necessary to discover its great spaces, its forests, the sea, its food, its creativity, its passion for hockey, but especially its openness towards the other, in bottom a unique place or culture French, English, American and international Intersect in a postcard decor.
I am happy to contribute thanks to my work to introduce Quebec to the Chinese. Whether it is during my years as a Quebec diplomat, where today through my new activity through education and culture, I find myself privileged to live in this city and to have the chance to rub shoulders with Quebeckers, Canadians, Francophones, foreigners and Chinese, all of whom have a remarkable history, background and personalities. All these people make the wealth of Shanghai.
So, the next time you meet a Quebecer in China, instead of talking to him about his charming accent, ask him if the Montreal Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup this year, you will see how we are proud supporters of the dream and hope !
Gaoming to Denise, to Ti-d’œuf, Bagueur to Michoune, to Nazaire. And to conclude with the Acadian accent: «Mecsi ben, vous viendlez»