To live and work in Canada was a dream for this researcher, who completed a Master’s degree in biotechnology in 2008 at the Université de La Rochelle in France. Born in Cameroon, Judith was familiar with Canada through images in news reports and on television. Of course, the picture painted was of an untamed land filled with vast forests and a country populated with genuine, warm people. Since her family’s arrival in Montreal in 2012, Judith has taught at the La Pocatière and St-Hyacinthe campuses of the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire. In 2016, she enrolled in the doctorate program at the Institut Armand-Frappier, which is an affiliate of the Institut nationale de la recherche scientifique. She says she is happy to be living in Canada. Working in the scientific community, she was readily welcomed by her peers. “As an immigrant, I feel accepted in Canada and I am delighted to be Canadian,” she states. The mother of three admits that having such close access to nature has always been a source of satisfaction and well-being for her. She recalls her trips to the picturesque regions of the Bas-St-Laurent and Ontario, and, of course, her walks on Mount Royal right in the heart of the city.
Under the supervision of Professor Claude Guertin, she is studying the gut microbiota of the emerald ash borer (an invasive beetle). Her research focuses on identifying ways for early detection and biological control to eradicate the illness afflicting ash trees in southern Quebec; an infestation that has spread throughout green spaces in many cities. The determination and hard work of the PhD candidate have not gone unnoticed. She received a fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. In 2017 and 2018 she was awarded the prestigious Vladimir-Smirnoff Fellowship for her contribution to the fight against forest pests. On July 18, 2018, the Le Devoir newspaper published an article on the plans and objectives of her doctoral research. However, her success was hard fought: she had to break down barriers and deploy all her efforts to prove she was qualified and educated. In fact, both Judith and her spouse use the words “resilience” and “tenacity” when describing their search for employment. She recognizes that while Canada does offer equal opportunities for all, racism and the marginalization of people of colour are realities we cannot ignore. Residing in the Rosemont neighbourhood of Montreal, Judith believes that cultural communities need to be more forthcoming in helping to improve the quality of living conditions. Diversifying the types of housing; urban parks; and the enhancement of human habitats would promote relationship-building between the various ethnic groups. In highlighting the benefits of where she lives, she emphasizes the rich cultural influences. “My children and I are surrounded by people from all over the world. French, English and African languages are intertwined,” she states.
Persistent and talented, Judith is grateful to her adopted country for its values and diverse society. We owe our quality of life and the quality of our environment to the sustainable development efforts of our government. Freedom of expression and of sexual orientation and the methods used to promote the inclusion and integration of cultural groups are hallmarks of Canadian society.