From diver to assistant boss in four years: An immigrant lives her “Quebec dream”

In Montreal, the journalist Louis-Philippe Messier is mainly on the run, with his office in his backpack, looking for fascinating topics and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all areas of life in this city chronicle.

In just four years, a young Moroccan woman in Quebec has gone from rags to vice president of a company. If some speak of the “American dream”, the latter is realizing their “Quebec dream”.

Kaltoum Joukarrid does not yet have citizenship or the right to vote, but she already owns shares in a famous charcuterie where she has made herself indispensable.

“She is so reliable, hardworking, organized and friendly that I couldn’t risk losing her, especially when labor is scarce, so I decided to have her as a permanent partner by giving her 10% of the business ‘ explains chef Felipe St-Laurent , founder of Ils en fument du bon cured meat shop based in Jean Talon market.

The young production manager introduced me to her team and her work laboratory.

Photo Pierre Paul Poulin

The young production manager introduced me to her team and her work laboratory.

Nothing seemed to make this shy woman, who avoided looking men in the eye and who spoke little French, ideal for the role of team leader.

“I grew up with my grandmother in the mountains, with no electricity and no school, we only spoke Amazigh [la langue berbère] and I learned Arabic late, when I came to the city at the age of 10,” recalls the third in a family with eight children.

Moving to Quebec? It wasn’t in his plans.

“I married an engineer from Quebec who was working in Morocco and I thought I would follow him according to his contracts in South Africa or Saudi Arabia, but one day he missed his country too much and he said to me, ‘Do it your suitcases, we are it went to Quebec” … and there I found myself in Repentigny.”

Kaltoum Joukarrid

In this radically different context, their marriage did not hold up.

“We parted ways amicably. He would have wished for a family life in the region. I longed for a more independent existence in the city.”

As soon as she gets the work permit, Kaltoum distributes her résumé at the Jean Talon market.

“In an interview with They Smoke It Good, I was asked if I would mind making sausages with pork because I don’t eat it, and I said, ‘No, I want to work.’ Work is one thing, religion another.

“If I make a dish with pork, I let all the employees taste it and I get their opinion, that’s all.”

work your way up

She was hired in 2017 at the age of 25 and struggled with diving for two months. Then she learns to prepare the ingredients for the sausages. Then she becomes sous-chef, then cook. Finally, boss.

Kaltoum Joukarrid

“I thought it was a joke that Felipe was playing with me and telling me he wanted me as a partner, but when we signed the papers in the fall of 2021 I realized it was serious… I was very touched and very proud ! ”

With little education, the new boss has a brilliant memory: she can give the exact date on which she took up a certain position… And she learns quickly.

“I had to learn to write French at work… Now I can do it.”

She manages 12 employees and plans the production. His famous initial shyness? Disappeared.

“I have my own apartment and a job that I love, good colleagues and my freedom,” she says.

“This is where I see my future, I don’t want to go back to Morocco: I’m preparing my application for citizenship.”

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