Introducing Jacques Darche, Honorary Consul of Finland in Montreal
We begin our series of articles introducing the Honorary Consuls of Finland in Canada with Jacques S. Darche. He was appointed as the Honorary Consul of Finland for Montreal in 2018. Darche is an active member of Finland’s foreign affairs network. From Montreal, he helps Finnish companies establish businesses in the province of Quebec, especially in the Greater Montreal area.
Mr. Darche is a Lawyer, Chartered Arbitrator and Partner at Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG), Canada’s largest law firm. In his practice Mr. Darche focuses on commercial litigation, international commercial arbitration, real estate litigation and expropriation, franchise law, international fraud, estate litigation, shareholder disputes, insolvency and financial restructuring.
Mr. Darche is a multi-faceted litigator who strives for the best results for the parties he represents. Various clients facing complex problems regularly retain him. He has extensive knowledge and experience that he acquired through years of work in Québec's civil courts as well as working with various international commercial arbitral institutions.
1. How did you end up as an Honorary Consul for Finland?
I have had clients in Finland since 2002 and for the past decade, I have been going to Finland approximately two or three times a year. As the former Honorary Consul in Montreal retired, I was asked to submit my candidacy by Ambassador Vesa Lehtonen. I accepted and was chosen for the position.
2. What do you enjoy most in your role as an Honorary Consul?
I really enjoy helping Finns and Canadians in their commercial and social exchanges. Coming up with creative ways to strengthen and create new networks between the two countries has been rewarding. The good feedback from companies and individuals has also given me motivation to improve the collaboration.
3. What is Finland known for in your area?
Definitely professional ice hockey, in large part thanks to Finnish NHL-player Saku Koivu who left his mark in the city with his determination, leadership skills and community involvement. Koivu played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1995 to 2009, ten years of which he was captain of the team. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was drafted by the Canadiens in 2018, is now proudly helping to keep this reputation alive. Outside the ice rink, I would say Finland is known for its great education system, the best winter tires in the world and excellent heavy metal bands.
4. What do you wish people in your area knew more about Finland?
Unfortunately, often Canadians do not know too much about Finnish history or its tourist opportunities. Also wider knowledge about Finnish innovations like circular economy and IT solutions could be a benefit for both countries.
5. What does your area have to offer for Finns or Finnish companies?
The Greater area of Montreal serves as a gateway to the North American market. Montreal offers exciting opportunities with numerous international organisations, a bilingual workforce and universities, a vibrant animation industry, young and energetic entrepreneurial spirit and excellent air, sea, rail and road logistics.
6. What is your favourite Finnish word or expression? Why?
“Sisu.” It is a simple word to remember and pronounce. “Sisu” does not have an exact equivalent in French or English but it captures the unique, rich and proud history, culture and spirit of Finns who formed and maintained this great independent nation since 1917.
Finland has about 400 honorary consulates around the world of which 14 in Canada. Within the scope of their specific geographical area, Finland's Honorary Consuls in Canada monitor the rights of Finns and foreigners permanently residing in Finland. Together with diplomatic missions, an honorary consul promotes economic and cultural relations between Finland and Canada, and takes part in strengthening Finland’s image abroad. An honorary consul can advise Finnish companies, for instance, in obtaining information about local business culture and in finding contacts.
Certain types of notarized certificates can be acquired through an honorary consul. Honorary consuls do not accept passport applications nor do they handle matters pertaining to visas or residence permits. Honorary consuls cannot serve as attorneys in judicial proceedings or as legal advisers.
Honorary consuls are private individuals who take care of their tasks on a part-time basis without remuneration.