Entrepreneur Paul Micheletti tells us about how Saint-Léonard has evolved over the last few decades
Since 1980, Paul Micheletti has worked in Saint-Léonard as the owner of the Ici Sport boutique, and now he also volunteers with the Société de Développement Commercial de la rue Jean-Talon à St-Léonard (SDC Jean-Talon). Born and raised in Montreal, his family moved from Italy to "almost Little Italy" in 1959, then established themselves in Saint-Léonard in 1965. "I was the first generation of my family born in Canada. Saint-Léonard is a real reflection of what Montreal and I have become. I love the cultural mix of Maghrebi, Haitian, Latino and Italian communities," says an enthusiastic Micheletti.
Saint-Léonard is a mix and match of cultures, languages and flavours that blend into one district and create a different local life. "All neighbourhoods want to develop local commerce, but I think Saint-Léonard’s success is based on the variety of shops and the multicultural owners. The standard of life in Saint-Léonard is very high, despite what could be mentioned in the media. When I hear there’s no money to be made in Saint-Léonard, it irritates me because it’s not true. Even though new immigrant residents might be having trouble to find a job, they eventually do. It’s not fair to base the district’s evaluation only on that matter."
As Paul Micheletti confirms, Saint-Léonard has always been a hub for Italian immigrants and their progeny. But since waves of new arrivals from different communities are more frequent in the last years, all residents have to adapt. "I don’t see why we would have to live in an Italian ghetto in Little Italy or Saint-Léonard, or a Haitian one in Côte-des-Neiges or Montréal-Nord. It’s not like that anymore. Everybody’s mixing up. I have friends from all walks, I speak three languages and every newcomer should try to do the same, at least if they want to survive as a business owner."
When asked if he thought about moving from Saint-Léonard, Micheletti stands firm. "I wouldn’t live anywhere else! We have everything here and we don’t have to go downtown to get what we want. As a business owner, I can only welcome the diversity of the area. We absolutely need to have openness to the world, and Saint-Léonard’s district has understood it."
Know an event, person or issue we should cover in this page? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.