Alta states 

Robert Joncas – Making the Olympic move west


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"At first it was hell," admits Joncas. "It's so difficult to make a move like this. Finding a job for Claude (who held a prestigious, senior teaching post back in Quebec), making sure the kids were well settled in school - it was much harder than any of us had anticipated." He smiles wanly. "You can plan all you want. But it's still a shock when you arrive."

To make his point, Robert tries to paint me a picture of life back in Bromont. "It's a small little community, you know. The hill is all of 380 metres high. We all dress the same, buy the same gear, shop at the same grocery store. It's an insular place. We have a very narrow vision of the world." He stops speaking for a moment. Smiles painfully. And laughs. "Then you move here - and you're whole world view is destabilized..."

As he's quick to admit, their west coast start was less than auspicious. But things soon started to get better. "Claude got a great job working for the board of education here. So that took a lot of pressure off me." Still, he adds, "the kids struggled to fit in to their new school worlds. Even as recently as six months ago, I wasn't sure if we'd be able to stick it out until the Games..."

It's amazing sometimes how quickly things can change. Now on the cusp of their first anniversary in B.C., Joncas says his family's doubts are all behind them. Indeed, he admits moving back home to Quebec is not much of a priority any more. "Everyone has fallen in love with this place," he says. "And everyone is thriving now. Claude loves her new job, Frederique has made the B.C. Snowboard Cross Team and David is on the development team - so they're both stoked." A pause. A chuckle. "As for me, I couldn't be happier. As a longtime snowboard pro, I can say with no hesitation: B.C. definitely has the best snowboard development program in the country." Another burst of laughter. "So how can I drag my kids back to Quebec next year knowing that?"

His political outlook has even changed. "My nationalist tendencies have certainly been altered," he admits. "Now I'm not so sure I support an independent Quebec anymore." In fact, he says, he's never been prouder to be a Canadian. "We got in to some pretty hot discussions when we went back to Quebec for a visit recently," he explains. "We kept telling our friends: 'Get out of your comfort zone. Take a chance and travel to the West Coast. Come see what you're missing.'" He chuckles. "Some of them got what we were saying. But you really have to come west to understand what life is about here..."

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