• Jules-Pierre Malartre

Je suis deuxième – Stories of transformative experiences


PHOTO COURTESY JE SUIS DEUXIÈME

A free event being given in French at Collège Valleyfield explores lives that have transformed and started over following the worst possible conditions.

The non-profit organization Je suis deuxième (I Am Second) is hosting a special event March 29 in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield that will feature a number of speakers who will speak about their transformative life experiences.

The layout of the venue, consisting of a white chair on a plain black background, is as stark as the ordeals the five speakers have lived through. They come from different walks of life; their life-changing experiences being the only things that tie them together.

Most were never really in the public eye, but some might recognize Monique Lépine, the mother of infamous Polytechnique killer Marc Lépine. Monique has often been called the ‘Fifteenth Polytechnique victim’ for the stigma borne of her son’s rampage, taking the lives of 14 female engineering students in 1989.

The other four speakers are an ex-pimp who traveled around the country to seek forgiveness from the people he had hurt; a young lady who was in the Department of Youth Protection’s care and who finally found her father; a ‘boat-people’ refugee from Vietnam who fought adversity to become a cardiologist; and Jean-François Moquin, Director of Je suis deuxième, there to tell the story of his own transformative experience at age 16.

Je suis deuxième is loosely inspired by the similar American initiative, I Am Second. This event is a first for the Quebec-based non-profit.

“The event is the logical follow-up to the founding vision behind Je suis deuxième,” Moquin told The Journal. “It features stories of lives that were transformed. My vision is to allow Quebecers to discover a simple yet profound and de-institutionalized vision of Jesus. Quebec has a complex religious background. There was a social phenomenon where we massively rejected many aspects of religion.” Yet, there is a very personal dynamic and profound aspect of Jesus that was associated to this phenomenon that Moquin feels persisted and that is at the source of his protégés’ transformative experiences.

Moquin cites his own experience as the foundation of his initiative.

“Jesus changed my life when I was about 16. It did not happen in a church or in a religious setting. Twenty-six years later, its mark is still felt in my life.” His other guests have all experienced similar transformations and spiritual awakenings. “I want to connect on what we have in common: the transformative presence of Jesus in our lives.”

Moquin is quick to point out that his message is not about religion. “It is a personal, transformative encounter with Jesus.” Moquin feels that the institutional aspect of religion has lost its appeal for Quebecers, but notes that they still need a form of spirituality.

The movement was launched in October 2015. Since then, the video testimonials of people who have experienced similar transformative events have been watched over three million times. Their stories all share one common element: being able to rise out of the worst possible human scenarios and start over.

The event will be held March 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Albert Dumouchel room located at 169 Champlain Street in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. Admission is free. Live musical participation will be provided by emerging artist Laura Gagné. The presentation will be in French. The format does not include a Q&A, but Moquin and his guests will be happy to answer any requests made in English to the best of their abilities. You can find out more about the event and Je suis deuxième on their website at www.jesuisdeuxieme.com.

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