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May 29, 2012
Original French Text: http://noussommeslesfilles.com/2012/05/29/martine-desjardins/
Martine Desjardins is thirty years old. She is present of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ)
She has held the position since 2011. She is also a doctoral student in education at UQAM.
For five years, she was a sessional lecturer at Université de Sherbrooke in educational adjustment. She also worked for several years with the organization 1, 2, 3, GO! Saint-Michel, where she helped young parents and young offenders.
Martine also loves sports: she was the goalkeeper for the Quebec and Monteal handball teams, and has been playing soccer for more than 22 years.
“I’m a day-to-day kind of girl. If someone told me two years ago that I would be at the head of FEUQ during the biggest student movement in Quebec history, I would’ve found that very funny. My family, my friends and even my old master’s supervisors are really surprised, because this was not at all one of my aspirations. I’m really not a careerist. That’s why I don’t know what I’m going to do after my term ends. I don’t have a definite plan.”
“At first, I wasn’t taken seriously. People talked to the guys who were with me instead of talking to me. It was insulting. Now things have changed, but I think that a girl has to work harder for people to recognize her political strategy.
“Generally speaking, I often have to prove myself and to debate more than my colleagues. People will recognize Léo [Bureau-Blouin’s] rational and poised side, and Gabriel [Nadeau-Dubois’s] rebellious one, and they don’t really know what to make of me. They say that I cement everything together, and I find that funny.”
“If Léo and Gabriel aren’t shaved and their hair is all over the place, if they seem tired, it’s because they’ve been working hard. But if I look tired, it’s because I’m exhausted, I’m overtaken by what’s happening. One day, I didn’t have the time to do my makeup. The next day an article came out saying I was completely overwhelmed. They’re unforgiving, so I’ve learned to put concealer on!”
“There are lots of girls who go out and demonstrate, who bang on pots and pans in the streets…. They’re often very creative, enormously creative. They put on makeup, they dress up, but there are still very few of them in mobilization committees and activist groups. I think the ones that do get involved have guts. They’re never at a loss for words. These girls know where they’re going. They often have bigger balls then the guys who are there, at least the three girls who were on my team last year did. (I’m including myself in that group.) We knew where we were going. We weren’t afraid of debates. We took our rightful place. We rocked the boat! I think that that’s linked to the fact that the movement is almost entirely male.
WOMEN IN POLITICS: “I think the liberal government uses women as shields. They give women crucial positions, send them to the front lines, and afterward they kill them off. In politics, I think that women are more quickly sacrificed than men, and their mistakes are less often forgiven. I also think that’s the case because girls have fewer networks than guys. In fact, we’re more competitive among each other than men. For example, during the 22-hour negotiation session [Trans.: in early May], there was a clear competition between Beauchamp and Courchesne to see who would take the leadership role. It was terrible—they’re in the same party. Two guys would have worked together to create a common front. Nobody cares who takes the lead at the end of the race.
“I’ve often criticized Beauchamp because I thought she was one of the ones at the helm. But I was told that she wanted to give us the moratorium, that she was ready to do it, and that that was certainly the reason why she left, because they told her it was impossible.”
FUTURE: “I taught as a sessional lecturer at Sherbrooke for five years and I love it; I loved discussing and debating with my students. I really wanted to become a university professor, but nowadays I have to admit, I’m having doubts.”
FREE TIME: “Free time? I love reading, but what I love doing the most is going for walks outside. What I would love is to go for a day in the mountains, go to Gaspésie, but I can’t because I’m tied to my cell phone.
SHE ADMIRES: “The union activist Madeleine Parent. She fought for millions of causes, and especially for women. She was always on the front lines, even in the hardest times.
Véronique Hivon! She’s a discovery right now. I think she’s an absolutely amirable woman. [The debate on the emergency law (78), 18 May 6:15]
Activists, both women and men!
The members of my team. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. And I know that it’s hard for them right now. In the public’s eyes, I represent FEUQ, but the organization is made up of associations, activists and my team. I’m not alone.”
INFLUENCES: “Emmanuelle Hébert, from the organization MU (I love people who do community work), and my grandmother, who’s a strong-headed, big-hearted woman.
*Make-up and hair by Mélanie Belisle/Gloss artistes
* Text by Sarianne Cormier. Thanks to Lisanne Rheault-Leblanc, who conducted the interview.
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.