OUR FOUNDER

I moved to Edmonton from Mauritius in 2005. Back home, I worked for The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare as a social worker and I was involved in designing and implementing social programmes, which promote women empowerment, child development and family welfare.  As with all newcomers to Canada, I had to start from the bottom and earned my Child Care Certificate. I am also a registered Health Care Aide in Alberta with over 10 years’ of experience in working with individuals with autism, spinal injury and muscle disorder.

In 2015, I started Café Bel Air, Edmonton’s first gourmet popsicle company after neighbours and friends encouraged me to start selling at the farmers market. In that same year, I won the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association (AFMA) Award of Excellence.

In 2017, Café Bel Air was incorporated as a non-profit organization with mission to train and employ individuals with disabilities in the restaurant industry. After all, it is not rocket science to make and sell our award winning popsicles when the main ingredient is LOVE. Over the years, I have worked with many high-function disable individuals who struggle to make ends meet while on AISH benefits and not able to find a job where they feel valued.  

Fast forward to December 22, 2018, with only 3 days before Christmas, my husband and I were in car accident, where our car rolled over into the deep forests in Red Earth, AB (CBC News link to the accident). My husband passed away at the scene and I miraculously survived the accident. Equally miraculous, there was a car passing at that particular moment in this remote part of Northern Alberta and the driver rescued me. My life had taken a 360 degree turn, where I used to be a Health Care Aide to now being disabled myself. Ironically, Café Bel-Air’s success has now taken a whole new meaning.

Thank you for your support in our organization.

 

Marie Soochit