The story behind, Hades Smoke Shop
Growing up as a person of colour in Quebec was hard when I was younger. My parents came from Jamaica looking to give their children better lives and better living standards then they were given growing up in Jamaica. I do not think my parents realized that they were going to have their children in a better country but the area that they had chosen was a lot more racist than they thought. I was born in Gatineau, Quebec just like most of the students in my school growing up but the only difference was that I was a person of colour and people made sure that I knew that. In the late 90’s Gatineau was very Caucasian there were not a lot of kids of colour growing up there. I could tell growing up that I was different then the other kids in my school, but that did not stop me from trying to make friends. I leant very quickly though that a lot of children there had not grown up around people of colour and their perception of us were tainted of negative stereotypes and norms. There were a lot of kids that did not want me around but even worse there were parents that did not want me playing with their children, and that was hard for me to understand when I was younger. Kids would call me names and tell me how I was different I was because of the colour of my skin. It was hard for me to make friends growing up because of the negative social structures of racism that Quebec had been following for generations. Even though it was hard to make friends I never got discouraged from trying to make friends because my parents had explained to me that there were people in Quebec that were not racist, and that not everyone had racist attitudes towards us. My parents had put me in a few different sports so that I would be able to make friends easier and soccer really stuck with me. At 4 years old I started to play soccer and my father who is also a person of colour coached my team and I remember the first practice was the first time I had seen a lot of people of colour talking to my dad laughing, smiling, and shaking hands. It really opened my eyes that there were people in Quebec that did not care about my colour and as a child I did not think there were people like that because I had a lot of negative experiences interacting with Caucasians on my own. I was the only person of colour on that team of 16 kids but it was also the first time that I was starting to get accepted with some of the kids on the soccer team. One of those kids was Dylan Aldwinckle he was Caucasian, but he never treated me any differently. He always treated me like the other kids, and he was never racist which was such a huge change from what I was used to. It was not only Dylan that was nice to me his whole family treated me like everyone else, because of that I would say that they were colour blind they did not care which colour you were. Eventually I had learnt that Dylan’s grandmother lived in front of my house and she would have me over all the time. Dylans family was a representation of what was to come with people of colour in Quebec. Dylan’s grandmother had grown up in a time period which had a lot of negative social constructions and norms towards people of colour, but she did not abide by her societies norms and neither did her family. As the years went on Gatineau got less racist with more people of colour coming to live there but still at this moment there are not many businesses owned by a person of colour, but Hades is a representation that there is a change coming.
I went to Guelph University and graduated with a minor in history with a major in anthropology, which I am thankful for because both programs taught me about the oppression that people of colour have always had to battle. Even though people of colour were becoming more accepted in Gatineau there were not many businesses that were owned by a person of colour, because the majority were Caucasian owned. Even going to university showed me how fortunate I was as a person of colour to receive a university degree because my father was the first one to obtain a university degree. I had met a lot of kids who had generations and multiple family members going to university and they were always Caucasian. That showed me how fortunate I had been to be born in this time period where I had the opportunity to move up in society depending on my own merits. My father was an accomplished international businessman and he explained to me that even though we were people of colour we could move up in society if we gave it our all. He explained it would not be easy but just because somethings not easy it doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish it. After university I worked in the government for a bit and moved up but after awhile I realized that type of job was not for me. I had an idea about opening up a business in Gatineau and I had a solid plan but I wanted to find a friend to open and grow this business together with. I asked a lot of friends but most of my friends were also in the government moving up and they had good job security, which made it hard to find someone. As soon as a I asked Dylan though he was down, and it was interesting to me because once again Dylan was down to listen to an idea that was outside the normative box that our society had placed on us. I wanted to open up a Smoke shop in my town Gatineau, because at the time there were no smoke shops in our town and there was a demand for one. Marijuana had become legal in Canada just like alcohol but there were still negative stigmas behind it but growing up in a society that had so many negative stigmas and stereotypes about me I was ready to conquer this idea no matter what. Our business does not sell marijuana but because our products are marketed towards marijuana users banks, credit card companies and online creating websites made it hard for us to open our business. It took us almost a year to get all the proper licensing and to get our business registered with tax agencies. Even though it was hard to get our business open me and Dylan never strayed from our idea. We never gave up because we knew that It would be possible to accomplish this business idea. Now we are open and we are getting orders and customers coming for curbside pick up, and I don’t think this would have been possible without people like Dylan and his family. When people are accepting of others and understanding that people can be different and that’s okay anything is possible. Gatineau has become a lot less racist then when I was a kid and it just goes to show that people are becoming more accepting of others. At Hades we don’t care what you are or who you like we just want people to be themselves and feel accepted. Life it beautiful when we all help one another. After 24 years of being friends with Dylan he’s never treated me any differently even though our skin colours are different hopefully one day everyone wont care about colour.
Hades is an online store in Aylmer, QC which offers unique bongs, rigs, pipes and smoking accessories!! We also offer curbside pick up in Aylmer Quebec. Come check us out for all your smoking needs https://thehades.ca/ . Come follow us on Instagram for daily pictures of products and new products coming in @hades_smokeshop. Check out our fb page as well, Hades - Bongs, Rigs & Pipes.