For almost 10 years, Donald Jean has been among those who have been passionately, authentically and forthrightly calling on Quebec society to grow in diversity.
In his experience as an immigrant, he encountered a number of barriers. A journalist by training, and a media star in his native Haiti, he ran into his first roadblocks while searching for work within the traditional Quebec media, a search that was unsuccessful.
Refusing to accept the status quo, he said he wanted to “give a voice to cultural communities while acting as a bridge between them and the host society.”
In his moving tribute to Donald at the second gala for the Grands Prix Mosaïques: Les Lys de la Diversité du Québec, held in May 2014, the writer and Académie française member Dany Laferrière described their meeting upon his fellow Haitian’s arrival in Quebec. Seeing him full of the enthusiasm of the newcomer to whom our Canadian society promises so much, in his tribute Dany talked about Donald’s burning desire to take his place in a Quebec society that is firmly rooted in its traditions and in which he had trouble finding himself.
Almost without delay, Donald set to work building bridges by challenging Quebeckers and their institutions to back up their language of social inclusion with concrete actions. Thus, he took ownership of the word diversity, which became his trademark at mediamosaique.com, the internet-based news agency he founded and which still has no equal because of its specialization in ethno-cultural information from Quebec and Canada.
With this exceptional vehicle, Donald now works in collaboration with major players. In 2010, he joined forces with Radio-Canada to create the first "Table de la diversité" (roundtable on diversity), which was an enormous success. He engaged stakeholders from the Quebec government and the private, social and community sectors in the “Assises de la diversité” (congress on diversity) and he developed linkages with Télé-Québec, Bell Media and the Mouvement Desjardins, to name just a few.
This is Donald’s time to create his own movement, one that includes the diversity that adds colour and texture to the quilt of Quebec identity. This is his inspiration and it is this constant source of inspiration that feeds the vision of mediamosaique.com.
“I like to come in contact with diversity; I have no intention of connecting only with people from my own cultural group. For everyone to feel completely Canadian, we must get people out of their ghetto … and that starts with equitable access.”
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And so this young Quebec entrepreneur, who started as an immigrant, does not hesitate to make us aware of our values of equity, inclusion and respect, by translating them into action.
“Some people understand and support the social mission we have adopted at mediamosaique.com. Yet others remain conservative and stay in their comfort zone. The important thing here is to assess matters appropriately and find the right balance.”
Discussing the consequences of stigmatization in relation to the issue of religious radicalization, which has been much in the news lately, he commented, “Although things are improving, we need to continue to show resilience; the links remain fragile; a plant that is not watered withers and dies."
Donald is among those who have unquestionably understood the importance of seeing oneself, hearing oneself and recognizing oneself within the host society in order to have a sense of belonging. These are essential conditions for the inclusion that he has introduced with the creation of the Grands Prix Mosaïques: Les Lys de la Diversité du Québec, a gala where the leaders of Quebec society come together to celebrate his infectious passion to shine a light on those who have made a special contribution to diversity and are helping Quebec identity to evolve.
Donald is first and foremost a pioneer, a builder. His methods are simple and effective: provide a daily showcase for diversity and take one’s place instead of asking for it. In other words, the concept of inclusion turned on its head: “If I am not welcome at your place, you can always come to mine.” It is a paradigm shift that has proven successful in his mission and that will continue to grow until one day everyone can identify as being simply Quebeckers and Canadians.
In the meantime, Donald is expanding his exploration of diversity and giving voice to Canada’s Anglophone and Francophone communities by adding to his team of correspondents in Toronto and Ottawa and, soon, in Vancouver. He is also working on the third edition of the gala for the Grands Prix Mosaïques: Les Lys de la Diversité du Québec where, once again this year, 20 people representing Quebec’s diversity will receive this exceptional award.
Dany Laferrière's surprise tribute to Donald Jean at the second Grands Prix Mosaïques : Les Lys de la Diversité gala (in French).