Remembering Marc-Alexandre Chartrand

He knew many, opened up to few and was intimate exclusively with those he trusted with his heart. He was a stand-up, standout person. Before he came to Mount Allison Alex had already had experience participating in the international peace organization, Children’s Summer International Village, at 11 years old in India and at 14 years old in Portugal. He had success in obtaining the silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and had obtained the Diploma of London College of Music and Media in Pianoforte (DipLCM).

But I would like to share some thoughts on who he was to me, and to his close friends. For it is no more a tragic loss if someone with an inflated resume were to pass than a humble man of few socially affirmed “achievements”. No I will not try to persuade you of what a loss his passing by typing out his resume. I’d rather talk about what kind of human being he was to me and the people around him.

Those who knew Marc well knew he was divided, ambivalent at times. His character can be succinctly explained as the contrast of the pragmatic and the transcendental. His was a struggle unique to modern times and by many the modern man. His personal struggle made him believe that the world was in need of a little more love. Something he was always full of and ready to share. He expressed his love thoroughly, often intellectually and usually through teaching and mentoring. I think, were it not for his passing, he would have never stopped teaching, never stopped sharing his thoughts and knowledge with others.

Personally, my time with him was spent usually discussing the struggle for something better. He was a very social person, but he would rather spend his night exchanging ideas than pacifying his die-hard spirit with liquor. He was a practical man, he acted out of necessity. He also enjoyed his comforts: Vietnamese take-out from Vinh’s Wok, fashionable accessories and Belmont Mild cigarettes.  He wanted every edge to get ahead and hated those who squandered privilege. As such, he could be abrasive at times; this was propelled by his mind which worked at 5 to 10 times the normal human rate depending on what he was doing. He graduated Mount Allison with the Class of 2012 with Honours in International Relations. While he was here, he was active in the Model United Nations, The Argosy, and he was President of Bermuda House. He rose to the top ranks of the Mentorship Program, participating as a mentor every year he was here and receiving a Gold Certificate for his dedication to helping International students acclimatize themselves to Mount Allison. I first met him when we were both hired on as staff writers for the Argosy, and I felt truly lucky that I had the opportunity to work with him. He made literally hundreds of friends and admirers in his time here.

Never fearing contention, he was misunderstood as an arrogant man at times. However, his ambition was one he wished he could bestow on us all, he wanted us all to realize that we could all take the best things out of life, if only we applied ourselves. His philosophy was an ambitious one. To quote Wittgenstein, “Genius is intelligence with a bit of courage.” A close friend of his remember him taking up his cause on an academic issue, Alex wrote the Dean personally explaining his acquaintances situation and how unjust the university acted in their decision to apply academic suspension to his record. His aims were never exclusively for the purpose of inflating his own ego. He wanted to spread his love. He loved knowledge, and sharing knowledge, he was to be a perfect teacher.

He had a unique enthusiasm for life, which was manifested in his thirst for knowledge. He wanted to better understand the world around him. He was a die-hard Canucks fan, but a noblemen of gentile etiquette when it came to affairs of the heart. Asian, European and Middle Eastern culture were among his favourite hobbies to learn, master and understand.  His designs were for love and knowledge and love of knowledge.

So from the hearts of one to another, the collective hearts of your friends greet you.  An energy like yours will never die, indeed your passing only makes your energy more powerful in the hearts and minds of those that knew you. Like most of us, who we really are is muddled beneath the depths of the ego and caverns of the mind. But he felt something stronger; he knew that we are all not simply matter with a pulse. No, his mind was powered by the almighty force we all feel but struggle to make tangible in our lives. He was raised a Catholic but railed against cultural stigmas, and strived to be a true world citizen, devout on bridging gaps between races and cultures, burning the bridges of cultural stereotypes. He wanted to break down barriers of class, cultural pigeon-holing and pretentiousness he saw rampant throughout the world. He knew the truth that we are mostly vessels and that the mind and body are tools of that pure spirit we all feel pulling us to foreign lands, or pushing us to never give up our struggle. One that co-ordinated with the heart, soul, body and mind.

Marc died in China, attempting to see the tangibility of his hopes and dreams established in the form of a school. He had received funding for his own ESL school and was on his way to becoming a Mount Allison success story.

Friends, acquaintances, Allisonians, Sackvillians, and planet earth you have lost a marvellous man and high spiritual being. The best man I knew and a friend only to truth and wisdom.

Editor’s note: Marc Alexandre Chartrand was studying in China  at the time of his death in the spring of 2013. Chartrand was interested in education reform and was working toward opening a school in China. Chartrand graduated from Mt. A in 2012 with Honours in International Relations. 

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