Thanks to a unique marketing campaign called Date My County that garnered worldwide attention, the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (SDG) have found their special someone.
Emily Tohana and Michael Bricteux of Montreal are the love match county officials were searching for.
“It’s really exciting, I can’t wait to do this,” Bricteux told EOBJ. “Every step we have to enjoy, because it’s once in a lifetime.”
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What started as a marketing ploy for the county became the opportunity of a lifetime for Tohana and Bricteux.
“The Date My County contest was launched as a tool to attract more people to live and work within (SDG),” explained Tara Kirkpatrick, manager of economic development who also served as project coordinator for the contest. “When the entire country is facing a worker shortage, you need to be creative.”
As the winning couple, Tohana and Bricteux will receive $1,500 a month toward their accommodation for one year in return for acting as brand ambassadors and submitting two blog posts every month highlighting their experiences living in SDG.
“I thought, blog posting? No problem, I can do that. That’s, like, right up my alley,” said Tohana.
Currently based in Montreal, the couple must move to SDG by September 2023 and look for jobs in the region ahead of seeking accommodation.
Tohana, who currently works from home for an international consulting firm, hopes to become involved in musical theatre, while Bricteux is pursuing work that fits with his environmental sensibilities, such as with local firms ZipGrow Inc. in Cornwall or Cultivatd, a consultancy also in Cornwall.
Both the reach and success of the campaign took even the organizers by surprise.
“It felt like, suddenly, every part of the world knew where (SDG was),” said Kirkpatrick. “We began receiving applications from Mexico, Iraq, Switzerland and Hong Kong. We had numerous applications from the Middle East and as far away as Egypt and India.”
The contest ran from Aug. 8 to Nov. 1, 2022. The county received 177 applications, of which 40 had to be discarded because they didn’t meet eligibility criteria or requirements.
“We definitely didn’t think there would be as many people submitting as there were and it makes us feel all the more proud — and a little bit guilty,” said Tohana, who feels for the foreign nationals who applied for a better life but were not eligible.
Tohana’s father, who lives in SDG, introduced the couple to the contest. At first they didn’t plan to submit an entry, but then they changed their minds.
“We had this camping trip that my brother joined us for that was actually in Long Sault at the migratory bird sanctuary campground, so we had all this great footage and photos,” said Tohana, whose mother also has deep roots in SDG.
Both fun-loving adventurous souls, Tohana and Bricteux, with help from Tohana’s brother, put together an upbeat video showcasing their summer adventure in SDG and declaring that they “can’t wait to explore the real you, SDG.”
“I was convinced we were going to win. It was fun to do (the video) and then it was all put together and it was awesome. I knew we had a really good chance to get this,” said Bricteux, a native of Rosemere, Que.