We should be inspired by the Université de Moncton!

“The Université de Moncton was founded in 1963 in large part by Louis Joseph Robichaud, then premier of the province and an ardent defender of the French language.” (Photo: 123RF)

GUEST BLOG. I recently had the chance to be the keynote speaker at the 54th Faculty of Management banquet at the University of Moncton. The largest exclusively French-speaking Canadian university outside of Quebec, I had always heard a lot of good things about this institution, so I was interested to know a little more about it.

Masterfully organized by a volunteer committee of students (especially female students), the spectacular event began with a cocktail party highlighting several exceptional academic performances. Having a rather complicated educational background (I’m staying polite here!), I admire those who excel in their studies. While we shouldn’t use grades alone to judge a student, it’s still an interesting barometer.

As the laureates took the stage, I realized an even more important observation: the diversity of their backgrounds. Almost the majority of foreign students in the faculty, representing 50% of students, come from other French-speaking countries. Morocco, Benin, Togo, Madagascar, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and more!

Seeing these students take the stage and receiving this prestigious recognition from Nha Nguyen, acting dean of the faculty, made a deep impression on me. To be honest, I spent the entire evening searching for their story.

Of course, my daily life as an entrepreneur with thousands of crazy ideas and influences allows me to experience moments like these that feed my thoughts and inspire the topics of the chronicle. The evening had barely begun, and I was already looking forward to returning to my hotel room to share with you this unique, creative and innovative model that is the Université de Moncton.

For those who don’t know, New Brunswick is home to an extremely vibrant francophone minority, the Acadians.

After a turbulent past marked by brutal deportation (the Great Rebellion) in the 18th century, some Acadians resettled in the region.

Acadians are a minority in New Brunswick, unlike Quebec, where francophones are the majority. In 1963, the University of Moncton was founded by Louis Joseph Robichaud, then premier of the province and an ardent defender of the French language. He laid the groundwork by establishing the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education. Academics should have their own public and French-only universities.

My first observation was clear: who better than a minority should understand, welcome and above all not feel threatened by another minority. All the foreign students I saw on stage were thousands of kilometers away from their countries and families. Most saw their families once a year and then again. Leaving a village in the middle of the desert in central Mauritania to study in Moncton is more than a culture shock. He doesn’t move to another country, another continent, he actually moves to another planet!

But throughout the evening, I did not notice any difference between the students from here and from elsewhere. All of them, regardless of their background, history or school report, seemed to blend together as if they had always lived together. The evening was going to be magical.

In Quebec, we should be inspired by this model of integration, which allows everyone to shine in their own way, to be part of the same family, even if they are far from home, without trying to teach anyone a lesson. As a majority, we have a responsibility, and above all, a responsibility to welcome and help the integration of newcomers, not to make them feel isolated, forced to live on the fringes of our society.

I am also the rector and vice-rector of the university. I had the honor of speaking with Denis Prud’homme as well as Chancellor Louise Imbo. For him, creativity, French and diversity are essential to the University’s success; for him, the many riches of foreign students, combined with the uniqueness, resilience and deep cultural roots of the Acadian people, created this magical universe that I witnessed.

The miracle recipe is not available in Moncton or anywhere else. But what I experienced is rare. During my speech, I shared my thoughts on success and failure, team spirit, cooperation, and above all, the importance of working together to increase the chances of achieving a common goal. To illustrate my point, I cited Assumption Life mutual and UNI financial cooperative, two true gems of Francophone entrepreneurship in New Brunswick!

Alone we go fast, together we go far. By creating conditions for this minority to co-exist, both local students and those from other places have the opportunity to learn from this extraordinary experience and come out wiser. To end this pleasant evening, I went for a drink with some members of the organizing committee, and I have only one word to say to them: Bravo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *