MTL Blog had a chat with the CF Montréal player to discuss the upcoming season, playing pandemic soccer, and the team's feelings about the new name.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
What’s it like playing in Europe versus playing in front of your hometown fans in Montreal?
We're lucky to have a good fan base where the fans are really into soccer and they're coming out every game to support us in good and bad moments.
It's a bit the same way in Europe, but it's obviously a lot better for me to be here in Montreal and be able to play with my friends and having my family coming out to the stadium and having people that I love watching me play live instead of on TV.
I haven't played a big club like Manchester United or clubs like that. But, for me, playing in your hometown, you get the best of both worlds here as a professional soccer player. You're doing what you love in your hometown, you're able to see your friends, your family. For me, that's a dream come true, for sure.
With the pandemic, fans aren’t there anymore. How much does this take away from the game in your opinion?
I think it takes a lot, honestly, not having the crowd cheering for you or the other team. They give you the extra push in the game to either keep the win or when you need to actually push to get the goal. It's obviously something that we really miss.
It's really disappointing, obviously, because now we're not allowed to be able to play here in Montreal. It's weird because when you play away, people say, "normally at home, you win and when you play away, you lose." But it's just a stadium, you know. But when you play an entire season away from home, you really feel it. We really miss it.
When we played our first game with no fans, it just felt like it was still a preseason game. There are no fans, and you hear each other really well, you hear the coaches and stuff like that. It was tough at first to get that into that mentality of "okay, yeah, this is the real deal."
For me, it doesn't really play on my focus, because I know when it's game time, you know? But I think I'm missing a little bit of that excitement when I know there are 20,000 or even more fans cheering for your team.
How did you feel about the new team name and about all the hate towards the new name?
At first, it was a surprise to me because it's a big change. I played for the Impact and now I'm playing for the Club de Foot Montreal. It took time to adapt to it for us players. We can call it Impact, the Foot, whatever you want but we're playing for Montreal first and foremost.
I can understand people not liking the changes. There are die-hard fans that were shocked when the announcement was made. I think when the season will start, some fans that weren't really convinced about the changes will be.
At the end of the day, it's up to us, the players and the team to try to stick some success to that new name and new logo.
Though some people are a bit skeptical about that snowflake logo, it's a fact where we're the northernmost of all the teams in the league, it's the coldest place in the league, we get snow, so I think it's really in our identity. Let's not hide the fact that we have a shitload of snow here in Montreal and that it's part of our lives year over year. The hype behind the fact that people think it's stupid and all that, I don't agree.
What can we expect from CF Montréal this season?
We want to be a team that it's really hard to play against. We have a younger squad that's really ambitious, really aggressive, with a lot of energy. I think that's what you can expect from us. You'll see a team that is giving its best every game for the club, for the fans and for the city.
Boucherie Slovenia, a boulevard Saint-Laurent institution for 50 years, will soon serve its last spicy sausage.
The iconic home of enormous Eastern European-style sandwiches — Slovenian sausage and towering cold-cuts were staples — will close its doors forever on January 29, said the owners, Lourdes Rodrigues and Jean Teixeira, in a Facebook post.
"Thank you to all our loyal customers, for the wonderful years," they said.
With a menu overflowing with huge, yet affordable, meat and mustard sandwiches — sauerkraut, pickles and Cherry Cokes were also standard — Boucherie Slovenia is the latest of the Main's iconic old-school institutions to close.
The beloved Moishes steakhouse announced its closure under the strain of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The Boucherie Slovenia Facebook post asks readers to share their memories of the restaurant and butcher shop, with many offering childhood stories of visiting for a pepperette sandwich or their "underrated" smoked meat, which is "the best in the city," according to one commenter.
Many apparent long-time customers said they wouldn't know where to go to find dishes comparable to Boucherie Slovenia's treasured menu items.
Others remarked on how yet another classic Montreal restaurant is closing its doors. "Nothing replaces these fantastic old shops," said one person. "It's a loss. The rich character of the boulevard is disappearing."
Montreal is certainly no stranger to a traffic jam, which makes taking public transit a more viable option to not only get around faster but do more good for the environment.
As Canadian cities take the initiative to improve their transit systems and reduce their carbon footprints, Montreal has become one of the country's greenest metropolitan areas when it comes to transport, according to one ranking.
A December report from Kijiji Autos analyzed green transport options in Canada's most populated cities, evaluating their use of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and the number of electric charging stations.
With its metro and bus systems, BIXI rentals, bike lanes, and availability of electric cars, Montreal found itself in third place among Canadian cities that offer the greenest transport with a score of 5.5/10.
Although Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau snagged the top two spots, Montreal takes the lead as the most bicycle-friendly city in all of North America, with a total of 2,163 bicycle paths, says the Copenhagenize Index.
Montreal's third-place ranking is encouraging news, said McGill University Assistant Professor of Geography, Grant McKenzie, who specifically boasted about Montreal's metro system, "especially compared to other Canadian cities," as well as its "substantial investment towards electric buses."
While McKenzie said "we can always do better" and bemoaned the city's ban on e-scooters, he called the popularity of the BIXI and the inclusion of electric bikes in its fleet an "excellent move in the right direction."
As for electric cars, Kijiji Autos looked at new registrations of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, as well as total charging stations. Montreal landed second to Toronto with a total of 3,633 new registered electric cars, and 1,258 electric charging stations throughout the city.
Kijiji Autos also looked at the number of hybrids and electric vehicles for sale on their platform. Montreal led the way with 1,063 hybrid vehicles and 375 electric vehicles, states the report.
With the province of Quebec offering residents a rebate for the purchase or lease of electric cars, Quebec estimates that there will be 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.
The government is in the process of filling a Service Canada job bank and it's advertising salaries of between $61,152 and $65,887.
On an online recruitment page, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) office says it needs to fill 45 benefits officer and program officer positions in Quebec and encourages qualified individuals to apply.
The only education requirement is a high school diploma.
While benefits officers review and process employment insurance applications, the government describes a wide range of duties for program officers, including coordination with local stakeholders regarding services from the ESDC.
Service Canada says it has EI processing centres and "program branches" in Montreal, Laval, Boucherville, Drummondville, Thetford Mines, Shawinigan, Quebec City and Saguenay, but that it may assign alternative workplaces to applicants who don't live in these areas.
In addition to a high school diploma, Service Canada is looking for applicants who have experience totalling six months "in delivering services or programs to the general public" or "interpreting and applying legislation or policies."
The language requirement is either French-only or French and English, depending on the position, according to the recruitment page.
Complete details about the positions available and the application process are online.