Multilingual mom pledges to ensure area’s priorities are heard in the National Assembly
Chomedey’s new Quebec Liberal MNA Sona Lakhoyan Olivier speaks five languages, has been a resident of the area more than three decades, and has been well-known as a community activist in Laval for more than 30 years.
Before being elected on Oct. 3, Lakhoyan was an employee of Loto-Québec, serving as an executive hostess to VIP clients at the Montreal Casino.
She praises Loto-Québec for the diversity she says the provincial lottery and gaming agency encouraged among its employees. “You know, it’s so multicultural the Montreal Casino,” she said in an interview with The Laval News.
“You will find almost all languages spoken there by the employees. They could have not done that, but they did. They are really representative of Montreal’s diversity.”
Former school commissioner
The work often took her outside the Montreal region to meet Loto-Québec VIP clients in places like Charlevoix, Trois Rivières and Quebec City. Lakhoyan Olivier has also served as an elected member of the former Commission scolaire de Laval (CSDL), as well as vice-president of the board of directors of the Fondation de la Cité de la Santé.
She said that improving her fellow citizens’ quality of life while striking a balance between economic progress, social development and environmental protection were the driving forces behind her decision to run for the Quebec Liberals in Chomedey.
Quality of life issues
“My involvement within the Liberal team is driven by my desire to ensure that the priorities of the citizens of Chomedey are heard at Quebec’s National Assembly and contribute to the improvement of the quality of life for all,” she said in a statement issued by the Liberals prior to the election.
Juggling family obligations with work and now politics daily, she is married to Marc Olivier. Together, they’ve raised two daughters, Savannah and Ariana, both of whom are currently pursuing studies at Concordia University.
Raised on Guénette St. in Chomedey, Lakhoyan Olivier was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Given that Middle Eastern nation’s well-known multicultural identity, she remains a strong defender of multiculturalism in Canada and Quebec. “It’s why I speak Arabic,” she said regarding just one of the five languages she speaks fluently.
Fluency in five languages
“You know, had I been born here I would never have had the chance to speak other languages besides my mother tongue. But it was privilege to have been born in Beirut, where I had the opportunity to learn Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, which is my mother tongue,” as well as English and French.
While doing undergraduate studies at Concordia University, she also pursued minors in Greek, Russian, German and Spanish, although the admits she didn’t learn as much as she had hoped to. “When you’re not in a country where the people are speaking that language, it’s tough,” she said.
Being born into an Armenian family, she attended an Armenian community school during her primary education years in Beirut, followed by high school in Arabic, and then a French-language girls’ school in Montreal, and finally Concordia U.
Position on CAQ’s Bill 96
While she says she fully recognizes the majority Quebec francophone population’s current need for additional cultural protections through legislation like the CAQ government’s Bill 96, Lokhoyan Olivier still has serious concerns about the law’s impact on things such as the English-language post-secondary education system.
“A lot of French kids come from the regions to get English education because they want to succeed. The business language of the world is English.
“So, what I’m saying, speaking as Sona or as the Liberal Party representative, is that, yes, French is important and we understand the need for protecting French. But do not cut services to the English. Because what’s next? Cut English universities? Do we want them to leave and keep just French people here? What’s the plan? Where is this going?”