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A Portuguese Encounter: José-Louis Jacome and Joaquina Pires

18 décembre 2019

José-Louis Jacome, a Montrealer from the Azores, was researching his family history when a decisive encounter gave his project in a whole new dimension.

In 2018, the MEM – Centre des mémoire montréalaises met with two Portuguese Montrealers, José-Louis Jacome and Joaquina Pires. They described how their encounter led to a book and an exhibition dedicated to preserving the history of Montréal’s Portuguese community.

Rencontre portugaise avec José-Louis Jacome et Joaquina Pires

Rencontre portugaise avec José-Louis Jacome et Joaquina Pires

Une production du Centre d’histoire de Montréal

Réalisation : 
Stéphanie Lessard-Bérubé

Born in the Azores, José-Louis Jacome came to Montréal in 1958. Thirty years later, in 1988, he began tracing his roots and the story of his immigration. Then, in 2016, in the course of his search for information about his family and Azorean immigration in general, he met with Joaquina Pires, a Portuguese Montrealer who is very active in her community.

Recognizing the unique scope and potential of José-Louis’ project, Joaquina convinced him not to keep the material he had gathered for himself and his family. Her recommendation: share, present, and publish! To that end, she provided guidance and tools and put Joaquim in touch with people and institutions that could provide further support. The result was a book, available in French and Portuguese, a trilingual (Portuguese, French, and English) touring exhibition that was presented in Montréal, Toronto, Boston, and the Azores, and a fruitful collaboration with the MEM. 

Many people offered invaluable input along the way. José-Louis is grateful to Joaquina Pires for her involvement in all stages of the project and the exceptional participation of Joaquim Eusebio, a history professor in Montréal, José de Carlos Teixeira, professor at the University of British Columbia, and Fernando Maré, a resident of São Miguel in the Azores and a connoisseur of Azorean traditions. In all, more than twenty people contributed in various ways to the production of the book and the exhibition.

José-Louis’ work, says Joaquina, shows that “no group is homogenous.” She considers it a vital resource for memory consolidation in Montréal’s Portuguese community, noting that “History with a capital ‘H’ is the sum of many personal histories.” José-Louis’ undertaking, she emphasizes, is one of the first of its kind conducted in French, allowing it to reach an important audience—that of the host society. 

Thank you to Canada’s National History Society for its financial contribution to the filming and editing of this interview.

Référence bibliographique

JACOME, José-Louis. D’une île à l’autre. Fragments de mémoire, Montréal, autoédition, 2018, 255 p.