Un Marseillais au Canada

by Jérémy Frandon

I came to Canada to study. After graduating high school in Marseille, France, where I had lived until then, I enrolled at McGill University in Montreal. There, I found the McGill Naginata Club.

 During the year I joined (2018) the club had so many new beginners that they didn’t have enough Naginata for everyone to practice with. While I had joined out of curiosity, I stayed for the friendliness of the community. The club had social events throughout the year; from viewing parties, to board games night, to scavenger hunts around Montreal: it really gave a sense of belonging and turned many acquaintances into friends. Of course, most of the time in the club was spent practicing. The practices were led by Marija Landekic and Simon Bruins, founders of the McGill Naginata Club.

 While helping everyone get better at Naginata through thoughtful and rigourous practice, they also instructed the more advanced members on community building and teaching methods. The club also made good use of the McGill policy, which stated that rooms of the university’s athletic centre are free for students to use, as long as they’re not booked. By encouraging students to get extra practice in the morning if they wanted to, it led me to practice and socialize more with morning practice attendees. I also had a lot of opportunities to practice with other Canadian clubs, as we were encouraged to visit the Montreal Club and clubs outside of Quebec.

For example, the University of Toronto Club or the Edmonton Club. After my first year, I went back to France during the summer to spend time with my family. I also used this trip as an opportunity to go to Germany in order to see the World Naginata Championship and cheer for the Canadian team. In the following years, and up until the COVID-19 pandemic, I kept on practicing naginata. During this time I also became more involved with the administrative side of the McGill Naginata Club by becoming the club’s treasurer, then the president. I have now graduated from McGill and am pursuing a Master’s degree at Concordia University, while kickstarting the Concordia Naginata Club with Kevin Hallé.