Allow me to introduce you to a splendid young man I met by chance in Montreal recently. His name is Jonathan Morin, from Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu not far from Montreal.
I was at the Sheraton hotel downtown, about to give a speech to a group of students, and we needed help to make sure the laptop was properly connected to the hotel's AV system. This fellow shows up and checks that everything works fine, then says, in flawless English, "Anything else I can do for you?"
Being my usual clownish self, I say, "Well, I don't know - can you sing?"
"Yeah, actually, I can!"
"Really? Show me..."
And out of his pocket comes a thumb drive that he plugs into the system to make me hear his song, A la vie (To Life). It's this kind of rap (I think) style I'm not exactly a huge fan of... I try to be polite. I switch to French. "What's it about?"
"It's a tribute to the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan," he replies in equally flawless French.
"Get out of here!"
His head is held high, and he's looking me right in the eye. Yes, absolutely. That's what my song is about.
He explains that it's a project he's had for a long time, with three contributors (Louis Babin, Emmanuelle Caplette and Jacques Bigras), and that he'd only recently uploaded the song to MySpace under his artist name, L'INTeRLoKuTeuR, feeling it was finally ready to share with the world.
I ask him why on earth he'd write that kind of song. He has close friends in the military who've been to Afghanistan, he says. And he wanted to pay tribute to their service, to the reason why they chose to enlist - to fight fear, with honour, pride and dignity. His song is the internal monologue of one soldier yanked from his reveries while on guard duties when he's called to rush to the scene of a suicide bombing. Just before the call comes he's thinking to himself about what keeps him fighting, the picture he keeps in his helmet of his wife and daughter and his return to his family.
The song ends with this exhortation to the Canadian people never to forget the sacrifices of our military. "And may you, O Canada, understand what lies in the hearts of your soldiers."
"To our soldiers, past, present, and future," he concludes, "my hat is off to you."