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Discovering Mario Tremblay 

As we came to know Mario Tremblay in what could really be called his “natural environment”—that is, SainteGermaineBoulé—we were charmed by his incredible energy. This energy is mirrored in his rhythm of speech and in the reflection of rays of spring sunlight on his glasses. He emanates wellbeing, as a man who has the sincere belief that he belongs there. Yet, Mario was not born in a rural community. He was born in the big city of Montréal. His parents, though, were born in the Lower St. Lawrence region. As they still had family there and often went back, Mario has fallen for the countryside or, rather, the countryside has fallen for Mario.  

“Every time we were returning to the city, I was crying in the car at least until we reached Québec. I had seen my cousins staying there, I had witnessed how this little village life was exciting. I missed it. So, it has always stayed with me, this love of rural life.”  

Who knows, perhaps his love of the countryside transformed into a love for a country girl. Of all the girls in Montréal, the one who stole his heart was a SainteGermaineBoulé native.  

“My former girlfriend, the mother of my children, was from here. So, we used to come here. And then, while spending vacations here, I found out this village spirit and just how proud the villagers were. I said: ‘Hey! This is where I want to live! If I have kids one day, it will be in this village!’ Tania told me: ‘We can move to RouynNoranda.’ I replied: ‘Forget it! If you want me to move to Abitibi, it will be to SainteGermaineBoulé or nothing.’”  

However, as small villages do not abound with apartments for rent, they had to live a year in RouynNoranda before they found their house.  

“You can buy a house! In Montréal, forget it, that would be impossible. Even if real estate has risen due to mining booms, it is easier, in Abitibi, to bring children into the world. Secretly, I would perhaps have liked to be a pioneer back in the day, living in an era when people came here to develop Abitibi. But still, this is it. We are pioneers, but 2.0 pioneers. Yes, the houses are built, organizations and such are established, but you can still be involved!”

Because, to him, living somewhere also means being involved. There was no way he was going to be identified as “Tania’s boyfriend.” He had to make his mark, to make himself known.  

“The best way to get to know people, before you go knocking on their doors, is perhaps to organize yourself, to get involved. I ultimately got to know people, I ultimately was not the boyfriend anymore, I ultimately got to be myself, Mario. This is when you really get to experience the region, to fit in with it, to become familiar with it.” 

Except that he does not do anything halfway. He got so involved that he was ultimately offered a community organizer position. Day to day, he supports organizations, helping them to maintain momentum and giving them a “boost,” as he says. He has the opportunity to work with all the volunteers from the village, people of all ages who enjoy donating their time to make sure everything is more humane, more friendly.  

“Projects are rarely done alone! We all stick together. That is, I think, what gives life more colour. That is a way of life. It enriches my life to see my kids grow up into this, and to be around elders. In Montréal, this is more of a challenge because there are more people. Whether they want it or not, people there are more afraid of others. I think there is something more humane here. It is easier to connect together in AbitibiTémiscamingue. Because even if you live on an island, in the big city of Montréal, where there are many, many people, you feel alone. You are less able to contribute to your community. Here, you live in a young, bold region. Here, if you want something, you take action.”  

Other than that, he spends the rest of his time enjoying life. There is, very close to his home, a playground that suits him perfectly.  

“This right here is Skinoramik. It is an outdoor club where you can go crosscountry skiing, snowshoeing, or even partridge hunting. You will find a very nice camp further in the woods. It was built last year. You can stop there, as it is a hut. I think that being in the forest can help you centre yourself. In addition, this is something easily accessible. I also enjoy walking the trails. They are located only four or five kilometres away from the village, which is great. Other than that, I travel around Témiscamingue. I think it looks like SainteGermaine. It is an agricultural area similar to Palmarolle.”  

In other words, even when he goes away from his village, he is somewhat seeking it. If that is not sufficient proof that he is doing well here, I wonder what it will take for you to believe it.  

Rencontrez Mario en vidéo

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