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Interview with Aurélien Jondeau, the new safeTALK French Co-Trainer


Jun 21, 2016

Among the many filming projects at Videopalooza was a new French safeTALK Co-Trainer video. French safeTALK trainers have always been able to use a subtitled version of Khari Jones’ English video, but will now have access to French-language recordings. We are proud to introduce Aurélien Jondeau, the new safeTALK French digital Co-Trainer!

Renée Ouimet, LivingWorks’ French Training Coordinator, met Aurélien when she reached out to Jean-François Schell, a contact at Calgary’s French-language theatre company Théâtre à Pic. Jean-François had participated in the filming of ASIST 11 sections in French in the summer of 2014. Though he was unable to participate in the safeTALK videos, he referred Renée to Aurélien, a colleague with whom he’d previously acted. Aurélien met Renée and other members of the safeTALK Committee in Calgary, and they were soon convinced he would be ideal for the role.

Following his successful and charismatic performance, we joined Aurélien to discuss his experience recording the co-trainer videos at Videopalooza.

LW: How did you prepare to record the co-trainer videos?
AJ: Between my meeting with the safeTALK Committee and going on set, Renée offered to bring me to Ottawa to attend an actual safeTALK training so I could see exactly how it unfolds, the emotion going on, the material. It helped me to figure out a lot about safeTALK in terms of the co-trainer’s role and how the audience gets involved.

LW: You were excellent on camera! How did you get involved with acting and presenting?
AJ: I’ve always liked the theatre. When I was a kid in school I was involved, but the fact that I travelled the world for eight years before coming to Canada in 2010 made it difficult—sometimes I was in some countries where it was a bit challenging, or maybe I wasn’t there long enough to get involved in the community. It’s something that stayed in my heart, and I knew I liked it, but I only had the opportunity to get back into it when I settled down in Calgary six years ago. From about two or three years ago I had the opportunity to join a Francophone theatre company—Théâtre à Pic.

LW: What was this role like compared to stage acting? Was it difficult talking about suicide?
AJ: It was a bit challenging. It’s real life, it’s not necessarily acting like in a theatre play. It was challenging because I went through that a bit as well with my mom. She went through a really rough time in the past few years, and did have some suicide experience in that time. It was a feeling of being powerless, being on the other side of the world as she was going through that. So recording the safeTALK video was a way to give back to the community, to relate and really feel that—hopefully I displayed that in front of the camera.

LW: What have your learned about suicide through this experience, and how did it feel to be able to record something that will empower so many people to make a difference?
AJ: I feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to help. Unfortunately a large number of people assume that suicide only happens to people who are already struggling, who have a large accumulation of problems or issues, and that’s not the case at all. Through my personal activities and as an entrepreneur with two businesses, I get to meet a lot of people from a lot of backgrounds, cultures, and social categories, and you never know who might be thinking about suicide. It can happen to anyone, as safeTALK tells us. I feel like it’s important, what safeTALK does, and to be able to help provide those tools, I feel privileged—really grateful.

Aurélien informed us that his mother is now feeling much better, and we extend our best wishes to both of them. We are grateful for his involvement as the safeTALK digital co-trainer, and we will keep our French trainers updated with announcements about when they can expect the new videos to become available!