Fabrice Vil says he learns every day from his colleagues or from participants at Pour 3 Points, the nonprofit he founded to teach life skills to children in low-income areas. (Alain Wong)
CBC Quebec highlights people from the provincial black communities who give back, inspire others and help shape our future. These are the Black Changemakers.
For two years, Fabrice Vil struggled with one big decision – whether to quit his lawyer job to focus on community work.
He originally started Pour 3 Points as a volunteer organization. It was a small operation that used exercise to teach children in low-income areas the skills to thrive in life and in school. He knew that full-time employment would mean a leap in confidence.
There were many reasons for continuing to practice as a lawyer, a respected profession where he made good money.
“But that wouldn’t have honored me for what has driven me most since I was a child: thinking about society, thinking about the inequality I see, finding ways to contribute more directly to a better society,” he said.
He took the plunge eight years ago and left the legal profession to focus on the growth and development of Pour 3 Points. Today the organization works with around 100 trainers in the greater Montreal area and beyond to improve the lives of children.
Vil said he was very aware of social inequality throughout his childhood. His parents immigrated to Canada from Haiti, a country that has seen some of its hardship due to the effects of colonization, but was also founded as a result of a successful slave rebellion.
He lived in the northeast part of Montreal and attended school in other, more middle-class areas of the city. He saw how some parts of the city were disadvantaged compared to others. He knew he had benefited from privileges and felt an obligation to help create a society where more young people have equal opportunities, he said.
Vil also learned the importance of having good coaches as a kid. He played soccer and basketball and was the boy who was shorter than his peers, who wasn’t particularly athletic, who was shy and who lacked confidence.
Having experienced firsthand the strength of the connection between athletes and coaches, his organization is focused – teaching coaches to use what is known as the humanistic coaching approach, which is about looking at a child as a person, not just as an athlete and to help them in all aspects of their lives.
Every day he learns something from his colleagues or the participants in his program, young people who want to build a society that is both socially and environmentally more responsible.
He sees the impact they make when the young athletes become coaches and when the coaches become coaches working to lead another generation of aspiring coaches.
“”[It] is pretty impressive because it’s about the pay-it-forward concept, which I find really, really promising, “he said.
Vil, who has also contributed his experience to column appearances for French-language newspapers, said the biggest challenge he sees is people resisting change and trying to maintain the status quo.
He pointed to the Quebec government’s refusal to recognize systemic racism in the province as a specific example of this mentality.
“If we are not brave enough to identify the problem we want to address, there is less chance that we can move forward.”
The Black Changemakers is a special series that recognizes individuals who, regardless of their background or industry, are motivated to make a positive impact on their community. From dealing with problems to showing small gestures of kindness on a daily basis, these changers make a difference and inspire others. Read more stories here.