Sébastien Bélisle grew up in Sullivan, on the outskirts of Val-d’Or, but chose to settle in Abitibi-Ouest more than twenty years ago. However, the way he talks passionately and enthusiastically about this territory makes it sound as if he has lived there his entire life. After completing his studies in political science and in management, he saw a job posting for the general manager position at Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi d’Abitibi-Ouest that led him to settle in La Sarre, a city he knew little about back then. He quickly fell under its spell, thanks to its people, their warm welcome, their availability, and their humbleness.
Sébastien launched a string of initiatives over time, each one more innovative than the last, always seeking to revitalize his territory. “There’s less youth here, it’s smaller, so we have no choice but to gain more visibility, to do more to stance out.” Shortly after he settled in La Sarre, he hosted, as a way to inspire collective imagination with his legendary creativity, pedal boat regattas on La Sarre River to drive the residents to take ownership of this location and to start thinking about its cleanup. He says, laughing, “We joked about it, because we all know that the quicker you pedal a pedal boat, the worse it gets.”
Sébastien Bélisle is hyperactive when it comes to citizen engagement. Beyond his position as general manager at Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi d’Abitibi-Ouest, we can see his contagious love of his territory, as well as a real will to contribute to its development and its quality of life. Alderman for twelve years, he is also behind the creation of the Fondation JAC, which helps every year children experiencing a difficult ordeal, and he initiated many activities designed to strengthen the social fabric and community ties. He adds, confident, “There’s something social and playful about it [community involvement]. We also learn and, more importantly, we feel like it serves a purpose.”
Le Mouk-Mouk restaurant is his favourite in Abitibi-Ouest, but he also has a very soft spot for Le Cachottier bistro bar, in Rouyn-Noranda.
In his opinion, the lakes stand out due to their abundance and accessibility, both during summer for pleasure boating and during winter for ice fishing. He also highlights the abundance of beautiful trails to discover.
Summer, precisely for the abundance of lakes and trails, allowing people to use stand-up paddle boards and to travel around the region.
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