The soccer Party, organized by the Corporation de développement économique de la MRC de Montmagny (CDEMM) on August 19, 2023 in Berthier-sur-Mer, brought together some 60 soccer enthusiasts. They were able to stretch their legs, get information from the organizations present, and some of them were able to take home a bike.
Text and photos Marie-Anne Dayé
The cloudy skies didn’t dampen the spirits of the soccer players, who were eager to take to the field and face their opponents, even though the tournament was intended to be friendly. Of the four competing teams, three were grouped by company, while a fourth was mixed, made up of players from all walks of life.
Meanwhile, volunteers from Cyclo Nord-Sud were busy preparing the refurbished bikes, equipping them with front and rear lights and an express repair kit. In all, 26 bikes and helmets were handed over to temporary foreign workers. At the edge of the field, the InfoTET team distributed information guides and Justice Pro Bono used playful solutions to draw participants’ attention to issues relating to their rights.
Mission: successfully reach out to TFW
Alain Brebion, welcome and integration officer at the CDEMM, estimates that there are around 500 TFW from Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia, among other countries, in the Montmagny MRC. Most of them work in manufacturing companies, mainly in Saint-François and Saint-Pierre. The major difficulty, in his opinion, is reaching them. “We’ve always had trouble reaching them, because they’re a more isolated population. We already have contacts, but it’s still partial and fragile. As workers change, even if you make contact with them, they may not be there the following year,” he points out.
Since July, the CDEMM has hired new resources to help the project grow. Élyse Mercier, in particular, began the adventure in July and already seems to be taking her role as welcome and integration officer very much to heart. “The soccer context is what brings them together most easily. We reached them thanks to the bike donations. We know that many don’t have cars and have no means of getting around other than on foot, especially the farm workers,” explains the young woman, who had long felt the desire to get involved with migrant workers. One of my goals,” she says, “is to bridge the gap between immigrants and the resources they need. We have to find ways to talk to them. Walking from farm to farm is a bit difficult, so when we have events like this, it makes things easier and it’s enjoyable for everyone, both us and them.” In her opinion, the best way to mobilize workers is to find a leader in a company to pass on the messages and invitations. “We know his gang will follow!” she continues.
The team, which organized soccer matches every Saturday during the summer, targeting Latin American workers in particular, now wants to cater to the needs of Filipino workers, who are clearly keen on basketball. Sporting events are good opportunities to share information, create links and break isolation.
The project was funded by the Government of Canada.