Montreal·Black Changemakers

How a lawyer-turned-social entrepreneur uses sports to combat inequality

Eight years ago, Fabrice Vil left his job as a lawyer to focus on his non-profit organization Pour 3 Points, which today works with about 100 coaches across the greater Montreal area and beyond to make a difference in the lives of children.

Fabrice Vil wants to live in a world where more young people have opportunities

Fabrice Vil says he learns something every day from his colleagues or the participants in Pour 3 Points, the non-profit organization he founded to teach children in low-income neighborhoods life skills. (Alain Wong)

CBC Quebec is highlighting people from the province's Black communities who are giving back, inspiring others and helping to shape our future. These are the Black Changemakers.

For two years, Fabrice Vil wrestled with a big decision — whether to quit his job as a lawyer to focus on community work.

He had originally started Pour 3 Points as a volunteer organization. It was a small operation, using sports to teach children in low-income neighbourhoods the skills to succeed in life and at school. He knew committing to it full-time would involve a leap of faith.

There were many reasons to keep practising law, an esteemed profession where he was making good money.

"But that wouldn't have honoured what drives me the most since I was a kid: thinking about society, thinking about the inequality that I see, finding ways to contribute to a better society in a more direct way," he said.

And so eight years ago, he took the plunge and left the legal profession to focus on the growth and development of Pour 3 Points. Today, the organization works with about 100 coaches across the greater Montreal area and beyond to make a difference in the lives of children.

Vil said he was acutely aware of social inequality as he grew up. His parents immigrated to Canada from Haiti, a country that has seen its share of hardship due to the effects of colonization, but was also established in the first place because of a successful slave rebellion.

Living in the northeastern part of Montreal and attending school in other, more middle class areas of the city, he saw how some neighbourhoods were disadvantaged relative to others. He knew he'd benefited from privilege, and felt a responsibility to help create a society where more young people have those same opportunities, he said.

Vil also learned the importance of having good coaches as a child. He played soccer and basketball, and was the kid who was shorter than his peers, who wasn't particularly athletic, who was shy and lacked confidence.

He experienced first-hand how powerful the connection between athletes and coaches can be, and that is what his organization focuses on — teaching coaches to employ what they call the humanistic coaching approach, which is about looking at a child as a person, not just as an athlete, and helping them in all aspects of their life.

Every day, he learns something from his colleagues or the participants in his program, young people who want to build a society that is more responsible, both socially and environmentally.

He sees the impact they're making as the young athletes become coaches, and as the coaches become trainers, working to guide another generation of aspiring coaches.

"[It] is quite impressive because it's about the pay-it-forward concept that I really, really find is promising," he said.

WATCH | How sports can help build a better society?

How can sports teach kids to pay it forward?

CBC News Montreal

4 months ago
12:15
Black Changemaker Fabrice Vil stopped practising law to further involve himself in the community. He’s now teaching kids to be coaches and mentors. He joins Catherine Verdon-Diamond to talk about how sports can help build a better society. 12:15

Vil, who has also parlayed his experience into column-writing gigs for French-language newspapers, said the biggest

challenge he sees is people who resist change and seek to uphold the status quo.

He pointed to the refusal of the Quebec government to acknowledge systemic racism exists in the province as a specific example of that mentality.

"If we're not courageous enough to name the problem that we want to deal with, then there's less of a chance that we will be able to move forward."

The Black Changemakers is a special series recognizing individuals who, regardless of background or industry, are driven to create a positive impact in their community. From tackling problems to showing small gestures of kindness on a daily basis, these changemakers are making a difference and inspiring others. Read more stories here.

Written by Kamila Hinkson, with files from Maya Lach-Aidelbaum

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