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Best Buddies Canada

Best Buddies Story Spotlight: Jules César

“Inclusion is a right. It’s our own right, and people with disabilities should not have to request it. It is for us to make sure that the opportunity [for inclusion] is there for them.”

Jules César is a lawyer practicing at Ellsworth Johnson Michaud in Moncton, New Brunswick. Although kept busy with his work – and previously with post-secondary education – Jules has maintained a close connection with Best Buddies Canada for well over a decade. Jules functioned as Chapter President for the Best Buddies chapter at Université Sainte-Anne in Pointe-de-l’Église, Nova Scotia for three years. There, he was first introduced to the organization and grew passionate about its mission.

Jules and fellow volunteers recruit for the new Université de Moncton Best Buddies chapter

He established the first chapter at Université Sainte-Anne and was amazed by the interest from students. They started with ten to twelve buddies and quickly grew. Jules explains, “[The program] requires the ability to listen. The message you’re going to receive, you have to decode that message. Because [the buddies] have a special way of communicating what it is they feel, what it is they want. And most of the time it’s body language.”

Jules was paired in a one-to-one friendship with his buddy, Rachelle. He describes how she was super organized and clean – to the point that you could probably eat off her bedroom floor. She invited Jules to see her room. “I was excited because I knew it’s something that she – that’s what makes her happy. And I went and I still remember how organized she was. And then I started questioning my ability to organize my own space,” Jules laughs.

Jules (back right corner) is pictured at a Best Buddies dinner with his buddy, Rachelle (back center).

He spent a few years running the chapter in Nova Scotia, establishing a foundation and a system so that the chapter was sustainable, before leaving to pursue his law degree at Université de Moncton in Moncton, New Brunswick. The first thing he did was investigate how he could be involved in Best Buddies at his new school. There had been a chapter at the school, but it had since closed. Jules explains, “There was no structure. There was no system. Then I knew, okay, we need to establish [a chapter] and we have to make sure there is a system that can carry on for generations. And that’s what I did in 2014.” With the help of a professor at the law school, Jules started another chapter.

There, he grew to appreciate the routine of acting as Chapter President and developing another one-to-one friendship. “I was always looking forward to my Saturday morning to go and have a chit chat over coffee with my buddy,” Jules says. “It is really something I miss today. I miss it because – not just that I was sharing my time – but I learned a lot. I learned a lot and now it’s even in my practice. It created something in me with regards to the ability to listen in any circumstance. You cannot understand where a person is coming from unless you are ready to listen and you’re not just listening by waiting or anticipating an answer. You just get open and wait for what the person is going to share with you…It’s always something that will surprise you and nourish your emotions for the rest of your life. And that’s why even today, after becoming a lawyer, I’m still in contact with everyone that is involved.”

The Université de Moncton Best Buddies chapter received a generous donation from McInnes Cooper.

Jules is simply one of the many lives that have been touched by Best Buddies Canada. Even now, thirteen years after he first became involved, he takes the lessons he learned with him everywhere he goes. He knows that everyone who participates in Best Buddies become intrinsically connected – friends for life. “Even if it happens that you forget you are a Best Buddy, someone will remind you.”